Netflix's latest win comes from Bullet Train, which came out in theaters this past summer. The Brad Pitt-led action comedy is currently No. 1 on the Netflix Top 10 movies in the U.S. chart (as seen on Netflix's own site), a ranking it's just earned.
And since I've seen Bullet Train — at the multiplex back when it came out — I'm able to explain everything you need to know about it.
Bullet Train, which arrived on Netflix on Saturday (Dec. 3) is so fresh to the No. 1 spot that streaming rankings site FlixPatrol still lists Netflix Original Troll as the top movie. A TG staffer saw Troll in the top spot as recently as a couple of hours ago, but then saw Bullet Train (which is going in our list of the best Netflix movies shortly) take its place. The two have been in a hot race since Bullet Train started charting yesterday (Dec. 4), when it jumped to the No. 2 movie overall in the States.
Bullet Train is also thriving abroad. While, it's not on Netflix in many countries, but FlixPatrol also notes that it's the No. 1 movie on HBO Max in areas such as the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Chile and Costa Rica. But, popularity doesn't equal quality — the Netflix Top 10 is often proof, as we've seen the likes of Morbius on top. So, let's break down everything you need to know to figure out if you should watch Bullet Train on Netflix.
What is Bullet Train about?
Bullet Train is a movie whose title is both literal and a pun. A Tokyo bullet train is filled with assassins and other rogues, and it's speeding to its destination as fast as the bullets on board can be fired at other people on board.
In a bit of a Pulp Fiction-meets-John Wick fun, Bullet Train is all about a reality with too many hitmen at once, and more than a couple stories taking place at once on board. Ladybug (Pitt) is a hitman who's had really bad luck as of late, but his handler (who he calls frequently) is trying to get his courage up to snag a metallic briefcase. Ladybug isn't even supposed to be here today, but a colleague was sick.
On that same train, we meet two English brothers — Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor Johnson) who are also assassins — who are in possession of said briefcase. They're just trying to hold onto said briefcase while trafficking a rescued kidnapping victim to his father.
All the while, other dangerous passengers on board include Yakuza gang member Yuichi Kimura (Andrew Koji) seeking revenge for his son, a young woman codenamed The Prince (Joey King) and another assassin named The Wolf (Bad Bunny) who has his own personal vengeance story.
Chaos constantly ensues as these passengers intertwine on their way to their final destination.
Bullet Train reviews: What do critics say?
Bullet Train earned a big green splat logo on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 53% score from aggregated critics reviews.
Film critic Scott Tobias rated it 2.5/5 stars on his The Reveal newsletter, and wrote that in "its lowest moments, Bullet Train recalls the heartless drudgery of the mid-to-late ‘90s Tarantino boom. He also noted "It’s not fatal that [director David] Leitch and company have no evident goal other than to amuse audiences with two hours of spiffy nonsense, but there’s a whiff of try-hard desperation behind the film’s bravado."
Rebecca Harrison at Sight & Sound wrote "It’s a shame that the filmmakers didn’t trust the spatial and dramatic tensions provided by the train journey, and opted instead for seen-it-all-before spectacle."
Alissa Wilkinson at Vox wasn't totally enamored with Bullet Train, but she enjoyed it nonetheless. she called the film "pure escapism at its finest, with no message or lesson at its core." Like Mr. Tobias, she also noted the connections to Tarantino, writing "Bullet Train boasts a visual style that feels ripped from the 1990s, derivative of Tarantino and Guy Ritchie but not in a bad way. ... Everything from sound to color grading timing to swordfights is ratcheted up to 11 and, if you go in looking for a thrill ride, it’s pretty fun. "
Caroline Siede of Fox 10 Phoenix gave Bullet Train a B-, and wrote "In aiming to create a sense of non-stop comedic chaos, Bullet Train winds up feeling a little too calculated for its own good. It makes it to the station, but the ride is a bumpy one."
Bullet Train audience reactions: What viewers say
The Rotten Tomatoes audience score (76%) is much more favorable. Here are some of our favorite reviews from the Verified Audience section. While there are a ton of 5-star reviews (and the occasional 1-star), let's focus on the ones in between, as they're often the most telling of the quality of the movie or show.
Thomas F gave it 3 out of 5 stars and wrote "A strange combination of comedy and action. Over all I thought this was really meant to be a comedy. Most of the action was unrealistic but entertaining and much of it had a funny twist. Those who see this as a violent film may not like it or get most of the over-the-top comedy."
Jen B (also 3 stars) wrote "Flakey characters, it was funny but not great."
Mike (3.5 stars) wrote "It was really good. There were a lot of plot twists and some quirky and unexpected humorous responses by the characters."
Bullet Train on Netflix outlook: Should you watch tonight?
I can confirm that Bullet Train wears Tarantino's influence on its sleeve, but what I think goes unsaid above is that it's a ton of fun. Not only does it boast a decent cast, but Brian Tyree Henry in particular, delivers his dialogue exceptionally well, and he hits the emotional notes asked of him properly. Oh, and there are some A+ cameos that I won't spoil here.
So, if you're OK with an action-comedy movie that isn't trying to be novel, and leans into its influences, you'll be more than happy with Bullet Train. I know I was.
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.