How Bullet Train Shifted From A Dark, Hard-R Action Film To A Comedy, According To Aaron Taylor-Johnson

The first trailer for "Bullet Train" showed what looked like a "John Wick" style action thriller, but with the kind of humor you'd expect from the director of "Deadpool 2." Sure, there are assassins on a bullet train trying to murder each other, and there seems to be quite a lot of violent action, but they also respect the quiet cart and fight to the rhythm of "Stayin' Alive."

The thing is, the film was not always meant to be funny. On the contrary, according to Aaron Taylor-Johnson, it was originally going to be a dark and violent hard-R action film. 

Speaking with Andrew Garfield in an interview for Hero Magazine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson spoke about the original darker tone of "Bullet Train."

"Originally this thing was quite a dark, R-rated, vicious action piece, but [he and Brian Tyree Henry] hammed it up and made it fun. I don't know what happened, but it became a comedy! [both laugh] I think it's because the atmosphere was just surrounded by a cloud of fear and ultimately Brian and I felt it was our job to bring light and laughter to set, so if we made the crew laugh it was a good day."

Adding a little humor to the slaughter

Taylor-Johnson continued: 

"I think it brought an energy. It was Joey King, Brad and Michael Shannon, there was a great ensemble that came on board and we all just had a laugh. David was really open to playing and exploring, it felt like a big breath of fresh air – we had a fantastic time."

Now, a David Leitch film with violent action and tons of laughs isn't exactly a novel idea. After all, he directed "Deadpool 2," and "Hobbs & Shaw," which are more like action-adventure movies with tons of jokes and one-liners than thrillers. But the thing is, even his darker, more serious films like "John Wick" or "Atomic Blonde" have a lot of humor in them. Just think of the scene where Viggo hears that one of his employees hit his son, only to find out it was because he killed John Wick's dog, and tell me that is not absolutely hilarious.

Taylor-Johnson hints that maybe it is mostly his character and Brian Tyree Henry's that will serve as comic relief, but I don't buy it. Having Brad Pitt wear a bucket hat is definitely a comedic choice, so there is no way the rest of the film doesn't at least have a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor. Still, it is curious that Leitch was once thinking of "Bullet Train as a darker, R-rated action film only to make it funnier. 

We'll find out if Leitch made the right choice when "Bullet Train" hits theaters on July 15, 2022.