Bullet Train is a new American action comedy film directed by David Leitch and written by Zak Olkewicz. It is based on Ktar Isaka’s Japanese novel Maria Beetle (translated into English as Bullet Train [ja]). Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Benito A Martnez Ocasio, and Sandra Bullock feature in the film.
Sony Pictures Releasing plans to distribute Bullet Train in the United States on August 5, 2022. Trained killer Ladybug wants to give up the life but is pulled back in by his handler Maria Beetle in order to collect a briefcase on a bullet train heading from Tokyo to Kyoto. Onboard the train he and other competing assassins discover their objectives are all connected.
- Brad Pitt as Ladybug, a seasoned but unlucky assassin.
- Joey King as Prince, a young British assassin.
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Tangerine, a British assassin and Lemon’s associate.
- Brian Tyree Henry as Lemon, an assassin and Tangerine’s associate.
- Andrew Koji as Yuichi Kimura, a Japanese assassin.
- Hiroyuki Sanada as Elder.
- Michael Shannon as Jay Wang.
- Benito A Martínez Ocasio as Wolf, a Mexican assassin with a vendetta against Ladybug.
- Sandra Bullock as Maria Beetle, Ladybug’s contact and handler.
- Zazie Beetz as Hornet, an American assassin disguised as a train crew member.
- Logan Lerman as Tangerine and Lemon’s associate.
- Karen Fukuhara as a train crew member.
Bullet Train was conceived by Antoine Fuqua’s Fuqua Films label, which also produced the film. It was also planned to be a violent R-rated action film, but during development, the movie morphed into an R-rated comedy.
Sony Pictures engaged David Leitch to helm the adaptation of the Ktar Isaka novel from a script by Zak Olkewicz in June 2020, with Brad Pitt joining the cast the following month. Joey King has agreed to join the cast in a “cameo level” supporting role. Andrew Koji was recruited in September, followed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry in October. Zazie Beetz, Masi Oka, Michael Shannon, Logan Lerman, and Hiroyuki Sanada will star in the film in November 2020.
Karen Fukuhara had also joined the cast, and Jonathan Sela will serve as cinematographer, according to Leitch, who announced the news in December. Bad Bunny was added to the ensemble the same month, while Sandra Bullock joined in February the following year to replace Lady Gaga, who had to leave out due to schedule issues with House of Gucci.
Several non-Asian actors, notably Brad Pitt and Joey King, were accused of whitewashing since their characters in Ktar Isaka’s novel were Japanese. The castings were criticised by David Inoue, Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League, who explained that while the American adaptation would have been appropriate if the setting had been set in the United States, the filmmakers chose to keep the novel’s Japanese setting while keeping Japanese characters in the film’s background, reinforcing whitewashing accusations. Despite the recent triumphs of Asian-led films such as Crazy Rich Asians and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Inoue questioned the actors’ allyship to the Asian community for knowingly accepting whitewashed parts and condemned the film for propagating the “belief that Asian actors in key roles cannot carry a blockbuster.”