Now if I had known that Speed was a remake, I'd partly be impressed. Despite it's flaws or down right shitty structure, I enjoyed Speed when I was a child so the film has that heavy nostalgia effect on me. Now if you had told me that Speed was a remake of a Sonny Chiba film, well, I might have spontaneously combusted. It's true, but I was in for a bigger surprise.
I was led to believe that this film starred Sonny Chiba but what I was delivered was a modicum of his presence as he sweats his run time away. Chiba plays a nervous bullet train conductor as he realizes that there is a bomb on his train that will explode if he decelerates. Led by the dynamite villain Ken Takakura, Bullet Train stands as a solid and respectable action film from Japan.
I normally don't sympathize with pigs on film. Shallow police officers and co. have been pissing me off on the silver screen since birth, so the sympathy involved with the cast of good guys was a welcome addition to my extensive cinema taste. I'm a bit disappointed at Ronin Entertainment for promising me 3 ass-kicking Sonny Chiba action movies and giving me ones that only feature around 15 minutes of screen time, sans Golgo 13.
My only real complaint is the entire jist of the film in general. These "disaster on wheels" films all have one thing in common; man-made attempted claustrophobia. These films strive to make you feel anxious to be trapped in a speeding metal doom device. This is what Bullet Train sets off to do, but since over half the film follows the police as they attempt to track down the bomber, much time isn't spent with the train, and even so, the scenes are too scattered.
Bullet Train is like an aged wine; not an over-priced one, mind you. It transcends that border between mediocrity and something a bit special. I can't exactly jump up and down over this one, folks. But I did enjoy it greatly. I'm just glad that Sonny Chiba eventually saved the day. Even if he looked exasperated the entire film.