Bullet Train Ending Explained: The Only Sure Thing About Luck Is That It Will Change

Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Bullet Train."

Do we make our own luck, or carry out what fate has in store for us? This question is the essence of "David Leitch's Bullet Train," based on Kōtarō Isaka's novel of the same name. The comedy-action-thriller is chaotic from the get-go: it opens with Kimura aka The Father (Andrew Koji) boarding a Kyoto-bound train to confront the person responsible for pushing his child off a roof. Meanwhile, assassin Ladybug (Brad Pitt) reluctantly gets on the same train to complete his mission of grabbing a suitcase and getting off at the next station. As expected, things go comically awry, as a dozen colorful characters board the train intending to use the case to their own ends.

"Bullet Train" ends on an equally chaotic note, tying together disparate plot elements into a cohesive web. The film's events culminate in the arrival of the White Death (Michael Shannon) in Kyoto, who orchestrated the presence of every character on the train to induce a "Battle Royale"-esque scenario. Some characters are murdered in cold blood: The Hornet (Zazie Beetz) poisons The Son (Logan Lerman) after she is hired by the White Death to do so. Others end up dying due to sheer bad luck, as with The Wolf (Bad Bunny) who gets accidentally stabbed after he flings a knife at Ladybug.

The survivors — Ladybug, Kimura, his father, The Elder (Hiroyuki Sanada), and Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) — need to work together and confront the White Death at Kyoto. While almost everyone is steered by revenge, Ladybug simply wishes to go home and enjoy some peace after a messed-up, eventful day. Meanwhile, The Prince (Joey King), who is the White Death's daughter, wants to kill her father to prove that she was his worthy successor all along.

Everything circles back to the White Death

The suitcase that Ladybug is supposed to retrieve is the catalyst of mayhem throughout the film. The twins Lemon and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) bring the case aboard and are supposed to hand it over to the White Death in Kyoto. After Ladybug snatches the case, he is unable to get off the train due to a series of interruptions, with the twins hot on his tail. Meanwhile, The Prince forces Kimura to open the case (a feat she attributes to her consistent good luck) and rigs it with an explosive that will potentially kill her father.

Unbeknownst to everyone, the White Death has employed all the assassins to get the case to him in one way or the other, making sure that they eliminate each other on the train, as each character had a part to play in his wife's death. Well, everyone, except for Ladybug, who was simply filling in for another assassin named Carver (a split-second cameo by Ryan Reynolds), who was unavailable for the mission due to stomach issues. Towards the end, as the train speeds towards Kyoto, The Elder comes up with a plan to enact revenge on the White Death, deeming the situation as an opportunity to fulfill his need for revenge.

After Ladybug tells The Elder about his propensity for terrible luck, the latter explains that while he might feel cursed due to this, he also brings good look to those around him. The Elder argues that if Ladybug had not filled in for Carver, everyone on the train would have died, with no one left to set things right in the end. Armed with this fresh perspective, Ladybug decides to distract the White Death, giving The Elder an opening to attack the feared yakuza boss.

The Bullet Train is literally derailed

Lemon's "Thomas the Tank Engine" obsession comes in handy at several points in the film. His partner, Tangerine, figures out that The Prince is the hidden antagonist as he finds a "Diesel" sticker slapped on her backpack. Later, Lemon used his Thomas knowledge to set the train in motion after the rigged suitcase explodes in Kyoto station. Meanwhile, the White Death confronts his daughter, and the latter's plan to kill him with a rigged gun fails. The yakuza boss quickly moves on to facing The Elder in an epic katana fight. As Lemon attempts to keep the train moving, a horde of yakuza henchmen battle it out with Ladybug. But the train begins heading towards a sure-shot collision course after the cockpit catches fire (oof, the chaos).

At this critical juncture, luck plays out in interesting ways. The drug-infused water bottle, which turned out to be temporarily unlucky for Lemon (he was presumed dead after being knocked out by the drug), acts as deus ex machina in the battle between The Elder and the White Death. Kimura hurls the bottle at the White Death, distracting him, allowing his father to slash the enemy's chest. Back in the cockpit, Lemon saves Ladybug after he falls into a river as the train passes over a bridge. Ladybug survives the derailment as his fall is cushioned by Momomon, the padded mascot worn by previously by The Hornet.

A variation of karma plays out in the end

Earlier, The Prince had lured Kimura's son inside the train in an attempt to blackmail him into killing the White Death. Although this does not play out as intended, The Prince hoped that her father would use the explosive-rigged gun to kill her, which would end up blowing him up instead. After this fails, Ladybug's luck intervenes. Post-derailment, the White Death takes the rigged gun to shoot Ladybug, who he still believes to be Carver, and ends up dying after the gun explodes on his face. Gnarly.

Just when Ladybug, Kimura, and The Elder believe that the worst is over, The Prince emerges with a gun, intending to shoot them all. In a stroke of karmic justice, a truck of tangerines hits her out of nowhere, killing her. This is no coincidence, as the film's post-credits scene reveals that Lemon survives his fall and finds a truck of tangerines by chance. Believing this to be a sign to avenge his brother Tangerine, he runs The Prince over, saving everyone in the process. In many ways, Lemon is the real MVP of "Bullet Train," as his intuition/luck guides him safely through the chaotic course of events.

Ladybug's streak of bad luck seems to have ceased, as he is rescued by his handler, Maria (Sandra Bullock). Touched by this act of compassion, Ladybug muses whether his luck was good after all, as everything worked out in his favor in the end. Just when he says this, a pole crashes on Maria's car. While Maria is annoyed, Ladybug considers it a blessing, wondering whether something good will pan out eventually. Hopefully, the unlucky assassin will reach home safe and enjoy at least a few moments of peace, cause man, he sure deserves it.