Last week, we saw a faux-mercial themed teaser for Brad Pitt’s summer action movie, Bullet Train. Now, we have a full trailer, and yes, I will take two tickets, please. Bullet Train comes from director David Leitch, who is touted here as the director of Deadpool 2, but is also the director of Atomic Blonde and co-director of John Wick, and Bullet Train looks very much in the action-heavy vein of those films. It does, however, have an irreverent tone that echoes Deadpool 2, in which, of course, Pitt had a cameo (he and Leitch go way back, as a one-time actor/stunt man duo).
Pitt is a conflicting figure these days, what with all the lawsuits, the shady business in New Orleans, and the ongoing custody drama with Angelina Jolie. But he remains GREAT at being a Movie Star, and Bullet Train is relying heavily on Pitt’s charisma and star wattage in this trailer. Though the movie is stacked with famous people—Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael Shannon, Masi Oka, Zazie Beetz, Logan Lerman, Bad Bunny, and Hiroyuki Sanada—and even has another Movie Star in Sandra Bullock (that’s her on the phone with Pitt), Pitt is clearly the anchor of this ensemble and the trailer is relying on his appeal to sell the movie.
And it works! Because Pitt is good at this, SO good at this, and his comedic performances are few and far between, but when he punches this button, he can deliver. Though this is an action movie, Bullet Train looks less like Fight Club and more like Burn After Reading—a somehow underappreciated Coen Brothers gem, in which Pitt plays a Grade-A numpty and CRUSHES it. Here, it looks like Pitt’s character, an assassin called “Ladybug”, is attempting to turn over a new leaf and—maybe?—leave the game behind, only to get pulled into a One Last Job scenario aboard the eponymous bullet train. Ladybug doesn’t seem like an idiot, not the way Chad is in Burn After Reading, but there’s a similar free-wheeling tone and lightheartedness to his performance in this trailer. Pitt is a better actor than he has generally been given credit for—his peers have only really accepted him as a “serious” actor as he’s aged—but I think he’s best when he smiles. The more Brad Pitt smiles, the better his performance and, usually, the movie he’s in. And he is smiling a LOT in Bullet Train.