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Bullet Train's Main Characters Ranked Worst To First

"Bullet Train" is a 2022 action-comedy film directed by stuntman-turned-filmmaker David Leitch ("Deadpool 2") about, well, a bullet train. More specifically, the film stars Brad Pitt as someone codenamed Ladybug, who — after an apparently long hiatus — decides to come back to work for a shady, secret organization and is immediately assigned to steal a silver briefcase out of a Japanese bullet train going from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Seems like a simple enough job until it turns out Ladybug has become embroiled in a deep criminal conspiracy involving the Yakuza, the Mexican cartel, two highly-skilled British hitmen (dubbed the Twins and played by Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a poison-obsessed assassin played by Zazie Beetz, and more -– all orchestrated by the enigmatic Russian criminal-turned-Japanese crime lord the White Death (Michael Shannon). 

"Bullet Train" is a fun — and funny — action film in the vein of Guy Ritchie's crime flicks, such as "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," or Joe Carnahan's "Smokin' Aces." It's full of fiery explosions, exciting shoot-outs, and bloody stabbings, as well as a lot of cool, colorful characters who cross paths with each other throughout the film and either make uneasy alliances to stop a common threat or murder each other.

However, of all the various assassins, criminals, and no-do-gooders in the film which ones are the worst, and which ones are the best? Well, find out below as we rank them in a handy bullet-pointed list. Spoilers ahead! 

11. The Son

One of the greatest strengths of "Bullet Train" is its large array of characters, as well as its really stacked cast — so much so that even smaller roles have recognizable faces playing them. This includes actor Logan Lerman, who starred as the titular Percy Jackson in 2011's "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (among other career highlights) playing a character only known as the Son. The Son is apparently a huge disappointment to his father, the White Death, a dangerous crime lord and the main antagonist of the film. It's hard not to see why when we first meet the Son: He has face tattoos, looking like if Post Malone was in a boy band, and he is obviously inebriated on the train.

In a key scene, he's approached by two violent assassins — Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) — who claim to have rescued him from a botched job and are escorting him via his father's orders. Things go badly, though, when he is found dead, with his eyes bleeding out in a gruesome way.

The Son is lowest on the list because he's unfortunately not given a lot of screen time, and he doesn't really do anything cool at all. He's mainly important as a foil to his sister, the Prince (Joey King), and how he relates to his father. However, to be fair, he does have some of the funniest physical comedy bits in the film, such as the Twins making him wave to the White Death's goons during a routine stop to make him look like he's actually still alive, "Weekend at Bernie's"-style. So that part is fun at least.

10. The Hornet

Meanwhile, Zazie Beetz plays the over-the-top assassin named the Hornet, who — based on her code name — unsurprisingly prefers using powerful poisons to kill her victims (though the poison she uses in the film is derived from snakes, rather than hornets, if we're being nitpicky). While the Hornet isn't on screen for much time, she nonetheless makes an impression due to Beetz's fun and bonkers performance. 

However, while Beetz's aforementioned purposely campy performance is certainly entertaining, it's also a little too over-the-top as well — not to mention the overuse of saying a certain swear word as some sort of punchline (even Freddy Krueger didn't say that line as much as she does). Furthermore, the Hornet is just too one-dimensional when compared to the other characters on this list. This is exacerbated by the fact that she is probably one of the few purely mercenary characters with no personal attachments whatsoever to anything going on in the train. Sure, this is by design, but that still unfortunately makes her character less memorable due to that reason.

Regardless, Beetz adds a lot of pizzazz to her small role and makes her much more memorable than she would have otherwise, especially as it was written on the page.

9. The Wolf

Bad Bunny aka Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio is a Puerto Rican rapper and singer who portrays a character named the Wolf, a brutal Mexican assassin working for the cartel. And, frankly, Bad Bunny acquits himself quite well in the role. He exudes immense intensity and does a great job in the action sequences. He also a really iconic look, with a flashy and ornate white jacket, fancy shades, and gold-tipped boots. Furthermore, the film utilizes epic, stylish flashback sequences to explain the Wolf's entire backstory, which makes his quick (and accidental) death at the hands of Brad Pitt's Ladybug all that much funnier. 

However, that leads to the main reason he's not higher on the list. Sure, his story is fairly compelling, and his fight scene with Ladybug is fun and exciting, but they are also both very brief. There's not enough screen time devoted to the Wolf to make him stand out more, and his impact on the story isn't much either in the grand scheme of things. Narratively, the Wolf's main function is to keep Ladybug on the train longer than just his first stop (wrongfully assuming he's responsible for the death of his wife and all his wedding guests) and helps reveal the identity of the Hornet... but that's about it. Even the cartel's connection to the White Death is tenuous at best.

8. The Father

British-Japanese actor Andrew Koji, who portrayed Storm Shadow in the recent "G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes" movie, plays Yuichi Kimura aka the Father in "Bullet Train." Kimura gets involved in the plot after his son is pushed off a building and almost dies. In his anger, Kimura tracks down the person who is responsible to the titular bullet train, and the culprit turns out to be a school girl nicknamed the Prince. It is later revealed that she is working to kill the White Death, and she lured Kimura with his son's attempted murder to use him as her patsy. Worse, Kimura is explicitly meant to fail and have the White Death use his own weapon against him, which the Prince had rigged to backfire and kill the infamous crime boss instead.

It's actually an interesting dilemma, and Koji plays Kimura as very human and fallible. He's not a bad character by any means, and the performance gives across the sense of sweaty desperation that Kimura is feeling being in the clutches of the Prince's complex machinations. This is exacerbated by the danger his injured son faces, helpless in the hospital after the fall and looked on by one of the Prince's violent goons. 

In the end, though, he does eventually stand up for his family, and fights alongside his own father (the Elder, played by Hiroyuki Sanada). It's certainly a satisfying character arc to be sure, but it's also one of the more straightforward ones, so he has less pizzazz than many of the other entries higher on the list.

7. White Death

Michael Shannon, who plays the enigmatic and evil crime lord the White Death, is known for playing some iconic villains in his past, such as General Zod from "Man of Steel" or the G-Man Richard Strickland in "The Shape of Water." That's because the actor is completely convincingly as a threatening menace (regardless of what his behind-the-scenes persona truly is).

In "Bullet Train," Shannon plays the White Death as a stone-cold killer, but he also knows when to play him with a bit of a camp and comedic flair, depending on what the scene is calling for at that moment. There's simply not enough screen time given to this particular villain for him to be higher on the list, but Shannon still makes quite an impression with his patented unique acting ticks and even more unique wardrobe, which makes him look like a washed-up '80s prog rock frontman. Another ding is the fact that the White Death is also kind of a straightforward villain, sacrificing his son for being considered "weak," killing off families, mocking a character during a life-or-death fight, etc. The character is mainly saved by Shannon's performance rather than the cliché way the character is written.

Also, it's pretty problematic that the character, a white man, has somehow taken over the Yakuza (especially considering that — for a movie set in Japan — so few of the main characters are Japanese themselves). The film tries to wash that issue away by having him earn it through his great skill and brutality, but it's still not a great look, regardless.

6. Tangerine

In "Bullet Train," British actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson ("Anna Karenina") plays a fun sleazeball assassin code named Tangerine. He is one half of a two-person mercenary team called the Twins, with Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) being the other half.

Johnson, unsurprisingly, acquits himself well in the action scenes (he's got a history of taking names in films like "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and will be playing the titular Kraven: The Hunter in Sony's upcoming "Kraven: The Hunter" film). However, beyond that, he has great chemistry with Henry as his "brother" Lemon. They both have a real sense of long-standing camaraderie between the two, and Taylor-Johnson is completely able to keep up with Henry's rapid-fire comedic timing.

Johnson also has great chemistry with Brad Pitt. A highlight is Pitt's Ladybug forcing Johnson's Tangerine to pay the stewardess (Karen Fukuhara, "The Boys") during a fight in the train's snack bar. But, most importantly, Johnson's able to portray some true pathos in the film, especially when he thinks Lemon had been shot and killed. There's real emotion there, which cuts through the snark and over-the-top bluster of most of the rest of the film. It makes the stakes higher, as before this moment death is mostly just a punchline, but his reactions sells the impending threat of the Prince, White Death, and how dire the situation they're in truly is.

5. Maria Beetle

Sandra Bullock plays Maria Beetle, Ladybug's mostly off-screen handler that he talks to on different phones throughout the film. However, beyond her important narrative function in the film, Bullock is able to let her own personality shine through the expository role she was handed. This is extra impressive, due to the fact it's almost entirely a vocal performance so she has to convey a lot of nuance, chemistry, and history without even seeing their face for most of the movie. In the film Bullock excels as the type of intelligent know-it-all who still somehow simultaneously comes across as likable and charming nonetheless.

It's even kind of touching at the end to see her try and help Ladybug in Tokyo, ending the film on a funny coda with her car being crushed by teetering telephone pole -– seemingly confirming Ladybug's eternal bad luck. Her face acting and reaction to the situation is hilarious, as while she's clearly upset she also retains her understated and dry demeanor, which is keeping with the character previously established on the phone.

4. Ladybug

Brad Pitt is fun as the laid back assassin-turned-courier code named Ladybug. He's affable and nonplussed the entire film, trying to keep his bearings the whole time as the plot veers into a variety of twists, turns, betrayals, reversals, etc. He's basically playing his Ladybug as if Jeff Bridges' the Dude from "The Big Lebowski" got caught up in an epic and explosive assassination plot. It's certainly a different vibe when compared to the kind of character at the center of these type of over-the-top action-comedies usually are.

Pitt is also great during his various intense hand-to-hand fight sequences, allowing his physicality to even delve into some slapstick comedy –- especially with his fight against Bad Bunny's the Wolf. His reactions to the craziness around him are priceless as well, merging his affability with his badass bonafides perfectly, which is not an easy calibration.

However, it must be stated the reason he isn't ranked higher is because his casting white-washes the novel of the same name — which is also set in Japan — but with Japanese main characters instead. The casting even prompted the Japanese American Citizens League to release a statement of disapproval. And although the author himself is okay with the casting, it's still pretty regressive for Hollywood to still be doing this kind of thing in 2022.

3. The Prince

Joey King ("Oz the Great and Powerful") plays the Prince, the daughter of Michael Shannon's White Death. Feeling spurned by him for ignoring her talents due to her gender, she sets out to enact a complex, Machiavellian plan to kill her father and take his place at the head of his crime syndicate.

Her plan is also pretty interesting, and has many fun steps, since — like any good villain worth their salt — she has contingencies on top of contingencies in case something goes wrong. She's a regular Lex Luthor in that way. For instance, she has the previously-mentioned Kimura's young son watched by one of her goons, so he doesn't try anything funny, and she has the gun she gives Kimura rigged to only be able to shoot backwards so she is never in any danger at all during their interactions in the first place. She also wisely uses her status as a young-looking school girl to get the drop on everyone, including Lemon, then later Ladybug (causing him to shoot and kill Tangerine to protect her –- not knowing her full true nature).

She's even the last surviving member of White Death's entire family (since her mother was killed before the start of the story by an American assassin named Carver, played in a cameo by "Deadpool" star Ryan Reynolds). That's because, at the end of the day, she is really the main antagonist the whole time. Her death is also pretty cathartic, considering it is Lemon who committed it, as revenge for the death of his brother. In the role, King is stylish, smart, and sadistic -– the whole package, really.

2. The Elder

Hiroyuki Sanada (who played Hanzo Hasashi, a.k.a. Scorpion, in 2021's "Mortal Kombat") plays a character simply known as the Elder in "Bullet Train," who also happens to be Kimura's father. The Elder is a former Yakuza assassin and was at one point second-in-command in the organization, but he was usurped from his position by a powerful and strong Russian criminal, who would later become White Death.

Sanada's the Elder portrays great inner-strength that shines throughout the film. This is especially true when he tells his tragic backstory, which includes the death of his clan and his wife (which is not too dissimilar to movie Scorpion's backstory, now that we think about it). He also has great chemistry with Brad Pitt, especially a comedic beat when he wants to tell Ladybug that backstory, but Ladybug is too tired and wants none of it. Sanada's comedic timing is actually surprisingly good as well, considering his more famously stoic and serious roles beforehand.

Of course, Sanada also does great with the action scenes in finale against White Death. Like in the previously-mentioned "Mortal Kombat," Sanada is believable as an imposing warrior and threat. 

1. Lemon

In "Bullet Train," Brian Tyree Henry ("Atlanta") plays an assassin code-named Lemon, one-half of the murderous Twins alongside Aaron Taylor-Johnson's  Tangerine. As always, Henry has amazing comedic timing, but he also puts commendable work into maintaining his thick British accent -– not once letting it slip or impede his performance at all. He's even able to sell both the rapid-fire comedy with it, as well as the emotional elements when things get a little more dramatic and serious later on in the film.

Furthermore, he had great chemistry with Taylor-Johnson, and their brotherly bickering is convincingly lived-in and genuine. Tangerine's exasperation at Lemon's constant evoking of Thomas the Tank Engine is one of film's better running gags, and it works because their familial bond is believable.

Henry also sells the action scenes, which is especially impressive considering there are quite a few involving him throughout. A highlight is the Lemon's fight with Ladybug in the "quiet area" of the train (prominently featured in the trailers), which has some unique and fun fight moves due to the cramped, contained area as well as the added pressure of not garnering too much attention from the other passengers and the need to be quiet.