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First Look: Bullet Train

With Covid-19 hitting productions hard and 2021 looking a wee bit barren on the film release front, you’ll forgive us for getting a little excited about an adaptation we don’t know all that much about here. Here’s what we do know about the Bullet Train film.

Based on Kotaro Isaka’s popular Japanese thriller Maria Beetle – renamed Bullet Train here in the UKBullet Train centres on a collection of hitmen, all with rather conflicting motives, that are crammed together onto a high-speed Tokyo train. Now we’re no psychics, but we get the sense that it won’t end peacefully for anyone on board…

The five assassins aboard the fast-moving Japanese bullet train soon find out that their individual missions are interconnected. Things inevitably get tense and the ‘bullet’ part of ‘bullet train’ rather quickly becomes literal.

The film’s main star will be none other than Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s Brad Pitt. The Oscar-winner will appear alongside Bird Box and Ocean’s Eight star Sandra Bullock for the first time ever, as well as one Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, otherwise known as Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny.

Bad Bunny might not be the most experienced actor, or seem a particularly obvious choice for a prominent role in a major Hollywood thriller set in Japan, but producers clearly see something in him. Plus, the man has a pretty enormous fanbase that hopefully equals a ready made audience.

Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock and Bad Bunny will be joined by the likes of Aaron Taylor Johnson (Tenet), Brian Tyree Henry (Widows), Zazie Beetz (Atlanta), Michael Shannon (Knives Out), Joey King (Slender Man), Logan Lerman (Hunters), Masi Oka (Heroes), Hiroyuki Sanada (Sunshine) and Andrew Koji (Warrior). It’s unconfirmed as yet, but there are strong rumours that there’s a part for Lady Gaga, who was last seen giving an incredible performance in Bradley’s Cooper excellent Oscar-nabbing A Star is Born.

Pitt is set to play a US hitman named Ladybug, while Taylor Johnson’s character name will be called Tangerine. King will play a deadly assassin called Prince, while Joker’s Brian Tyree Henry takes on another citrus-named role, Lemon. Bullock’s character is yet to be confirmed.

David Leith will be the man in the director’s chair. The former stuntman-turned-director has previously helmed action thrillers Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2 and 2019’s Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw. He also co-directed the first John Wick film, though was uncredited. So the man knows what he’s doing. It’s Leitch’s new company 87North Productions that’s produced the flick too, and with a budget of around $85m we’re expecting fairly big things.

As for the author of the book that this upcoming crime thriller is based on, Isaka is one of Japan’s best-loved mystery writers, winning the Mystery Writers of Japan Award, the Japan Booksellers’ Award, the Shincho Mystery Club Award and the Yamamoto Shugoro Prize. To date, twelve of his books have been adapted for film or television in Asia.

All in all, it sounds like one to watch. We can’t wait to get all aboard the Bullet Train. The book hits shelves on 1st April, while the film will hopefully be released at some point in the second half of 2021. More news when we have it!

Can’t wait to see the Bullet Train film? Let us know in the comments below!

Read an extract from Bullet Train by Kōtarō Isaka here.

Bullet Train

Kotaro Isaka

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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