Who should kill whom: unraveling the plot of the action movie Faster than a Bullet with Brad Pitt? The meaning of the film Bullet Train (2022), based on the book by the Japanese writer Kotara Isaki “Killer Train”, does not reach the depth of the original source, but still contains ideas taken from there. We will analyze the intricacies of the plot of the picture and offer our interpretation.
Country : USA; Genre : action, detective, comedy;
Director : David Leitch;
Cast : Brad Pitt, Brian Tyree Henry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Sandra Bullock;
tagline : “The end of the road is just the beginning”.
What is the movie about
Due to the fast-paced cinematic narrative, many of the turning points in Faster than a Bullet’s story may have seemed obscure. So let’s make a description of the plot, lingering on individual moments.
The film begins with the introduction of the character Yuichi Kimura, an assassin. He is in the hospital where his son Wataru is lying – someone pushed the boy off the roof. Wataru’s grandfather enters the room. He reproaches Yuichi for neglecting the child and thus putting him in danger. Also, Wataru’s grandfather makes a philosophical remark about the fact that his grandson is still lucky, that you never know what bad luck can turn into.
The main character continues to talk about this topic – another criminal who has just been given the call sign Ladybug. He considers himself unlucky. Small flashbacks show that Ladybug does indeed run into trouble on a regular basis during her “work”. Lately, he has been seeing a psychotherapist named Barry and is interested in karmic philosophy.
Guided by the position of non-evil, he deliberately leaves the gun in the storage room. Today, his task is simply to pick up a suitcase with an image of a steam locomotive on the handle, located on a high-speed train. This case was intended for a mercenary nicknamed the Carver, but he fell ill and could not go on a mission.
Yuichi gets on the same train. He is about to kill the villain who pushed Wataru off the roof. The villain sent a note from which it follows that he is now in the car. A young girl sits in the place indicated in the text. She does not come across as a killer, but this is deceptive: as soon as Yuichi loses her guard, the villainess uses a stun gun.
Another pair of assassins with the call signs Lemon and Mandarin are discussing the nicknames given to them. They accompany the son of the head of a criminal organization, nicknamed the White Death. The guy was held by members of another mafia clan Triad and demanded a ransom. A couple of mercenaries deftly dealt with them. That suitcase belongs to them – it contains money that played the role of a ransom. Lemon talks about the animated series “Thomas the Tank Engine” – he is extremely passionate about it and sees a deep meaning in it. Moreover, almost every person with whom he communicates, the mercenary associates with one of the characters in this cartoon. Lemon always has stickers with trains from the series with him.
The girl who stunned Yuichi Kimura introduces herself. Her name is Prince – her parent was named after Exupery’s character The Little Prince, because they dreamed of a boy. She is holding Yuichi’s son Wataru, still in the hospital, hostage. Her man has to call the girl every ten minutes. If she does not answer, the servant will have to kill the boy.
Lemon and Mandarin discover that their suitcase has been stolen (Ladybug did this as part of her assignment). This state of affairs threatens them with great trouble. After all, their customer White Death is famous for its cruelty. The mercenaries retell his story, according to which the current head of the mafia clan, Russian by nationality, defeated the previous one named Minegishi. Lemon believes that he can be considered Diesel – the meanest engine from the animated series. The mercenaries add to the story of the White Death that his wife died in a car accident and now he is very sad about her.
The prince is talking to Yuichi. The girl says that she plans to kill the White Death with his help.
Lemon and Mandarin discover that another problem has been added to their problems. It turns out that while the mercenaries were annoyed about the loss of the suitcase and were talking, someone killed the son of the White Death – it seems, with the help of poison. We are shown the life story of another criminal – a Mexican nicknamed the Wolf, whose family and fiancee were killed in a similar way. A vengeful man just boards the train and runs into Ladybug, who was about to sneak out with a suitcase in hand.
The wolf attacks Ladybug, thinking that he is the poisoning villain. However, the “loser” mercenary is at a loss – he does not even know the Mexican. Ladybug defends herself, and the Wolf dies from his own knife, which ricocheted into him. The hero once again tries to get off the train, but sees Lemon, whom he had already encountered earlier in Johannesburg (he wounded him), and hides.
Ladybug is talking on the phone with her boss Maria and asks if she knows who El Saguaro is – he found a tattoo with this name on the neck of a Mexican. In response, the girl reminds him of the very bloody wedding at which Ladybug was a waiter (this is probably why he became a suspect in the eyes of the Wolf).
The hero goes to Lemon and tells him about his spiritual rebirth. He also admits that he stole the suitcase and is ready to return it – if only to leave unharmed. But Lemon thinks that Ladybug killed the son of the White Death and does not want to let him go.
Now with the vile engine Diesel, he associates the one who came with the confession. Trying not to make noise, the mercenaries start a fight. Ladybug stuns Lemon and slips sleeping pills into his water bottle. Then, building a barrier with the help of the passengers’ belongings, he encounters a snake that is among them. According to the news, a dangerous reptile was recently stolen from a zoo. Her poison is exactly the same, from which the son of the White Death and the guests of the Wolf died at the wedding.
The Prince finds a suitcase hidden by Ladybug. She forces Yuichi to pick up the cipher for him, and he succeeds. There is money and gold bars in the suitcase. The prince equips the thing with explosives, which should explode when opened.
The White Death sends his thugs to the station, which is the nearest stop on the train’s route, to check if everything is in order. Mandarin comes out and says that everything is going according to plan. Lemon at this time controls the son of the White Death, like a puppet behind the glass of the train, showing that he is in order.
Maria tells Ladybug about another victim of snake venom – a certain surgeon. He was killed by a criminal named Hornet. Maria also talks about an antidote that will work if applied within thirty seconds of being bitten, stabbed, or poisoned.
The Mandarin finds Ladybug and gets into a fight with him. In the midst of the battle, a bell rings – the White Death began to suspect something was wrong. He wants the mercenaries to get off at the nearest station and show that everything is in order with the suitcase. Mandarin negotiates with Ladybug. The latter, leaving the station, pretends to be Lemon and shows another suitcase. He also accidentally opens it – underwear falls out. Ladybug and Mandarin manage to escape behind the closing doors of the train.
Lemon runs into Prince and Yuichi, asking them about the suitcase. The girl replies that she did not see the case and this alarms the mercenary. After all, he did not say that it was about the case. Lemon now believes that the dastardly engine Diesel is either Yuichi or the Prince. He decides to play a “game” with the suspects. Those should close their eyes and point to the main one. If they point at each other, Lemon is going to kill them both. As a result, the Prince points to Yuichi, and he, in the hope of saving his son, points to himself. So Lemon shoots him.
Ladybug tries to leave the train again at the next stop. However, the Mandarin does not release him, as he plans to pin the murder of the White Death’s son on him. Then Ladybug throws her “colleague” out of the train. The mandarin clings to the last carriage and returns.
Lemon and Prince hide Yuichi in the closet, after which the gunman still realizes that the dastardly Diesel from Thomas the Tank Engine is a girl. He aims the barrel at her, but the sleeping pills in the bottle, from which the mercenary sipped shortly before, are acting. Lemon falls unconscious. The prince shoots him with a pistol several times.
Ladybug finds Yuichi’s phone and answers his father’s call, letting him know that the train is approaching Kyoto. He also finds a photograph of the Hornet in the Wolf’s clothes. The girl turns out to be an insidious poisoner. All this time, she was hiding in the costume of a Japanese cartoon character named Momonga and it was she who killed the son of the White Death. And at the bloody wedding, she was a confectioner. The snake was also stolen from her.
Ladybug immediately confronts the killer. She says that the money in the case is intended for her as a fee for the murder of the White Death’s son. The Hornet’s needle stings Ladybug, but he manages to stick it into the girl too. The poisoner takes out the antidote, which the hero intercepts. Hornet is dying. Ladybug concludes: “Karma is working!”
The Mandarin discovers a bloodied Lemon in the closet. The White Death calls him and threatens him with reprisals for a failed mission. From the conversation, it becomes clear that the mafia bought all the empty seats on the train, which is why there are so few people left on it. The point is that the rest are killers. And they seem to be successful in destroying each other.
The Mandarin faces the Prince. She pretends to be a victim, but the mercenary reveals her trick. He sees a sticker on her back with a mean diesel engine, which Lemon managed to put on discreetly. But then Ladybug intervenes and reacts to the cry for help issued by the Prince. The hero shoots and kills the Mandarin.
Ladybug wants to get out again, but is tricked by the Prince. She tries to give the mercenary her pistol with a trick (it explodes in the hands of the one who pulls the trigger), but does not talk about the trick itself. Yuichi’s father, who has just arrived, enters the carriage. Ladybug is suddenly bitten by a snake that is next to him, but the poison does not work on him, because the antidote is already in his blood.
Yuichi’s father interrogates the Prince, who confesses that she pushed Watara off the roof. She also confirms her intention to kill the White Death at Yuichi’s hands. The man makes it clear that in fact his grandson is safe: his man strangled a man hired by the Prince in the hospital. The girl decides to kill the White Death herself.
Yuichi’s father, referred to by the writers as Senior, tries to convince Ladybug that the Prince was trying to set him up. He also tells him a story about himself. It turns out that he served Minegishi and tried to prevent him from being killed by the White Death. But it didn’t. In addition to Minegishi himself and many of his men, Senior’s wife was killed. The son, Yuichi, then miraculously survived.
The elder says that in Japan, a ladybug is not considered a symbol of good luck. Each of her seven spots is one for each sadness of this world. Elder and Ladybug decide to work together against the White Death.
It turns out that Yuichi and Lemon are alive. One was seriously wounded, but did not die, the second was saved by a bulletproof vest. Both join the “alliance”.
White Death enters the train and meets the Prince there. It turns out that the girl is his daughter. She started a gamble with the murder of her father in order to earn his attention and prove that she is better than her brother. The Prince makes the White Death take the gun with a trick, but he does not pull the trigger.
The Mafiosi exits the train and approaches the surrendered Ladybug. He just gave his accomplices a suitcase. Ladybug speculates that it was the White Death who tricked all the assassins on the train into killing each other. Mafiosi reveals the details of his wife’s death. It turns out that they attempted on him, and after the accident his wife was still alive. She was supposed to be saved by one of the best surgeons, but was poisoned – Maria told Ladybug about this earlier.
Hornet, like the others, was hired by the White Death, so killing his son was part of his plan. The thing is that after the death of his wife, the villain began to perceive the offspring as his weakness. After all, it was because of her son that the woman ended up in the ill-fated car. The purpose of the White Death was to control fate. Pushing killers against each other, he seemed to take the place of its arbiter. But his main target was the Carver, who this time was replaced by Ladybug. The key to the intention to kill him is that the Carver is the one who set up the car accident.
White Death mistakes Ladybug for the Carver. The mafiosi’s accomplices open a suitcase with an explosive device that the Prince has built in. An explosion occurs – the White Death is carried by the blast wave into the train.
The elder and Yuichi deal with the servants of the White Death. Some of them get into the driver’s cab, where Lemon was trying to control the train. After the fight, he forgives Ladybug for the Mandarin’s death. Pushing another killer off the train, Lemon falls down himself.
White Death collides with the Elder in the car. During their battle, the latter addresses the villain. He says that he really has no power over fate and is terribly afraid of it.
The train derails. The shabby White Death again approaches Ladybug, begging not to spoil the karma, and pulls the trigger of the trick gun. The device explodes – the mafia dies. The elder says: “It is finished”, solemnly decorating the corpse of the White Death with a flower that he has been carrying with him all this time.
Ladybug, Senior, and Yuichi, while moving away from the crash site, run into the Prince. She wants to kill everyone, considering herself the new supreme villainess – the new White Death. However, she is hit by a car carrying tangerines. In a post-credits scene, we learn that the survivor of the fall into Lemon Lake was driving.
In the finale, Ladybug is met by Maria. They talk about positive thinking – that you need to look at things from the right angle: fate is on their side.
The meaning of the film Bullet Train
Faster than a Bullet is a loose adaptation of Kotaro Isaka’s novel Killer Train. In the film, the book storyline has undergone very significant changes. In many ways, the characters and their twists and turns have been greatly simplified. At the same time, the authors tried to equip the content of the picture with the same deep meaning. It cannot be said that they succeeded to the full extent.
The fact is that in the book “Train of Killers” the central place was not at all occupied by the confrontation within the top of the mafia clan, as in the movie “Faster Bullets”. There was no White Death there. In his place was Minegishi, who died only at the end of the novel. However, for the most part, he was in the background, although he really controlled the “puppet” killers.
In the center of the plot was the implicit antagonism between the Ladybug and the Prince. Moreover, the latter was not a girl (and not a child of a mafia), but a fourteen-year-old teenager. But in terms of the degree of deceit, he far exceeded all the killers combined. This is a merciless sadist who enjoys unlimited power, while being extremely lucky. The very kind and unfortunate Ladybug was his complete opposite. However, the Prince eventually suffered a just punishment. God’s Cow passed his luck.
This event was marked by winning the lottery in the form of a box of lemons and tangerines – a kind of hello from the other world from the killed killer partners (at the end of the movie Faster than a Bullet, this moment is played out in a similar way). As a result, the total bad luck of one turned into a great success, the luck of the other turned into a failure. There is full compliance with the karmic law, although in the book, unlike the film, it is practically not mentioned.
Without the depth of contradiction between the mindsets of the conniving boy Prince and the good-natured Ladybug, the speculations about fate that take place in Faster than a Bullet seem rather far-fetched. Also, the motivation of the characters in the picture with Brad Pitt claims to have some additional, hidden meaning, but in reality it is often empty. At the very least, it is completely incomprehensible why exactly the Prince wanted to kill her father so much (in the book, the overbearing sadist Prince sought to manipulate everyone and the mafia was just one of his targets). The motivation of the White Death to kill his own son is also extremely weak (in the book, the head of the crime family did not hire the Hornet).
So, the essence of the film is more about entertaining the viewer. The explanations “Karma works”, “A series of bad luck can actually be good luck”, “Fate is on the side of those who look at the world positively” look somewhat strained in this regard, although they try to display a slightly deeper hidden meaning of the novel.
Bullet Train Ending explanation
The meaning of the ending of the movie Faster than a Bullet, in conclusion of the above, is still banal. It’s simple: karma overtook the villains, characters with purer intentions (who are, nevertheless, dangerous criminals) are the winners. Such an explanation of the ending does not weigh down the feeling of a dynamic action movie and at the same time still gives reason to think.
- Snatch (UK, US, 2000): a comedy action movie with Brad Pitt from director Guy Ritchie that has already become a classic;
- Free Fire (UK, France, 2016): another fun action movie about the showdown of criminals;
- Kill Bill (USA, Japan, 2003): a story of bloody revenge in a Japanese setting from Quentin Tarantino;
- Pulp Fiction (USA, 1994): also a Tarantino film that has become a classic – the dialogue of the characters here and in Faster than a Bullet are quite similar;
- Snowpiercer (South Korea, Czech Republic, 2013): passengers on a train rushing through a dead post-apocalyptic world stage a revolution;
- Murder on the Orient Express (USA, UK, 2017): film adaptation of the detective by Agatha Christie about the search for the killer in a luxury train;
- The Taking of Pelham 123 (USA, UK, 2009): the dispatcher confronts the terrorists who have hijacked the train;