Warning! SPOILERS for High-speed train.
High-speed train, the latest action-adventure comedy from David Leitch, features various easter eggs and references to different films, properties and actors. The film stars Brad Pitt as Ladybug, a seasoned mercenary who is given a job originally intended for another agent by his handler, Maria Beetle (Sandra Bullock). His mission: to retrieve a briefcase. The object, however, proves to be highly coveted by various parties, all as trained as him.
Said interested parties are represented by a star-studded cast that includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Brian Tyree Henry (Eternals), Joey King (The kissing booth) and Andrew Koji (Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins). With so many assassins working against each other, Ladybug’s mission quickly turns into a fight for survival that will test her newfound desire for inner peace. Originally developed as a gritty action thriller, High-speed train is a comedic and self-referential approach to the action genre, which perfectly matches the sensibility of its director.
David Leitch made high-octane action movies like Atomic Blonde, Hobbs & Shaw and Deadpool 2. These projects have positioned him as a top name in the action genre due to his distinctive directing style, visual flair and often irreverent comedy – High-speed train continue in this tradition. Being a fun take on action movies, the film includes multiple references to other franchises, as well as Leitch’s work.
High-speed train features many high profile cameos. For starters, Ladybug’s handler – who is mostly only heard from throughout the film – is played by Sandra Bullock, who makes an appearance at the end of the film to save Pitt’s character. The boys star Karen Fukuhara briefly appears as a train staff member who sells sparkling water to Ladybug in the midst of a fight between him and Tangerine. Channing Tatum appears as a distraught passenger who Ladybug uses as a diversion for the assassin Tangerine, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Fury star Logan Lerman is also featured (although mostly in corpse form) as White Death’s son, High-speed trainis the big bad, played by Michael Shannon. However, arguably the most surprising cameo comes from Ryan Reynolds. The dead Pool The star makes his presence felt in a seconds-long appearance as Carver, an assassin of questionable morals responsible for the murder of White Death’s wife.
The lost city
The lost city, a 2022 action-comedy starring Sandra Bullock as writer Loretta Sage and Channing Tatum as model Alan Caprison, featured Pitt in a supporting role as Jack Trainer, a tracker who helps save Sage from a group of mercenaries. During the mission, Trainer is shot in the head and left for dead, but he makes an unexpected return in the film’s post-credits scene. The lost cityThe stinger shows the characters of Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in a meditation class. The trainer appears behind them and he tells them that he is trying to work through his anger and resentment issues. When Pitt’s Ladybug is introduced into High-speed train, he states that he is trying to be a better person, wanting to let go of his anger and have a more positive outlook on life, which can serve as a subtle continuation of Trainer’s path to inner peace. The potential connection between Pitt’s two characters is made more visible by their shared skills (both being trained killers) and by cameos from Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock in High-speed train.
Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas and his friends and its star, Thomas the Tank Engine, feature prominently in High-speed train. The series is first brought up by assassin Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry), who says he learned what he knows about life and people from the animated series. Lemon makes several references to Thomas and his friends as the story unfolds, but it’s not just a running gag. The encyclopedic knowledge of the assassin of the children’s franchise serves as a guide for High-speed trainis many twists. At one point, Lemon lists the personalities of Thomas and his friends‘ main characters, which, as they reveal themselves, match the personalities of the film’s main characters. For example, he uses the Devious Diesel engine to accurately identify Joey King’s The Prince as a villain and compares his brother Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) to Thomas himself after finding him dead.
An Unexpected Deadpool 2 Connection
As mentioned, High-speed train features Ryan Reynolds as a remorseless assassin named Carver. The actor’s appearance was brief, and that was intentional, as it was meant to mirror Brad Pitt’s role in Deadpool 2. The 2018 dead Pool The sequel features a sequence in which the majority of Wade Wilson’s X-Force teammates are killed by parachuting. One of the victims is Vanisher, an invisible mutant who only appears onscreen when he dies after accidentally landing on power lines. The shock makes him visible for a few seconds, revealing Brad Pitt as the actor behind the elusive mutant. As High-speed train director David Leitch explained to Weekly entertainmentwhen he offered Reynolds his role in the film, the actor accepted on the condition that his cameo be as short as Pitt’s in Deadpool 2.
Logan Lerman rose to prominence playing the title character in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and its 2013 sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and it seems High-speed train makes a subtle reference to the actor’s role in said films. In the film, assassin brothers Lemon and Tangerine board the bullet train alongside White Death’s son (Lerman) to deliver him to his father, after saving him from a group of kidnappers. The two assassins talk about the young man, and Lemon compares him to the Thomas and his friends Percy character, a kind and clumsy engine. Given how specific the mention was, it was likely not only a reference to the animated series, but also Logan Lerman’s aforementioned stint as the son of Poseidon in the short-lived Percy Jackson franchise, which becomes a Disney+ show.
High-speed train also possibly featured a nod to HBO’s hit series, barry. As he clarifies on several occasions, Ladybug is not happy with her life. He strives to be less negative and let go of his anger issues, which he works towards with the help of his therapist, Barry, who the hitman talks about on several occasions. Barry is never shown, but his constant mentions could be a reference to the main character in barry. The show centers on Barry (Bill Hader), an assassin who, while on a mission in Los Angeles, is introduced to the world of acting. Fascinated by the arts and tired of his violent job, he tries to build a new life as a performer. Ladybug’s path to peace mimics Barry’s journey – both being men who seek more peaceful and positive environments, but, through circumstances beyond their control, find themselves unable to free themselves from their violent occupations.
As evidenced by Brad Pitt’s codename Ladybug, luck is a recurring theme in High-speed train. The film’s first scene, for example, opens with Yuichi Kimura (Andrew Koji) in a hospital room with a television broadcasting a program about a lucky cat, an animal that, alongside its series, makes its presence throughout the film. The subject is also highlighted by Ladybug, who makes numerous references to her bad luck, and Joey King’s The Prince, who brags about his good fortune on different occasions. As the film progresses, however, their situations are reversed. The prince gradually loses control of his master plan, constantly being discovered by different High-speed train characters and failing her much-desired assassination attempt on her father, all culminating in her being crushed by Lemon. Ladybug’s luck, on the other hand, gradually improves, exemplified by the fact that he has been injected with a deadly poison but is quickly able to find an antidote, survive a gruesome train crash, and… two subsequent assassination attempts under very specific circumstances (one of which involves being cushioned by a giant suit), and ultimately rescued by his master, Maria. Ladybug’s luck shines again at the very end when Maria’s car is destroyed before they leave the crash site, from where they drive away safely as soon as the authorities arrive, allowing High-speed train have an uplifting ending.
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