Brad Pitt’s ‘Bullet Train’ Is Much Slower Than Japan’s Real-Life Shinkansen Train and Other Things the Action-Comedy Got Wrong

Moviegoers worldwide can’t get enough of Bullet Train. The movie boasts a plethora of stars — Brad Pitt, Michael Shannon, Sandra Bullock — as well as a fun premise. However, the action-comedy isn’t exactly accurate. Did you know the real bullet train is much slower than its cinematic counterpart?

Actors Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brad Pitt waves to fans at the "Bullet Train" press conference in South Korea
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brad Pitt at a Bullet Train event in South Korea | Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

What is ‘Bullet Train’ about?

Bullet Train follows Ladybug (Pitt), an unlucky assassin determined to pull off a disaster-free job. After boarding a high-speed train bound for Kyoto, Japan, he finds that the train is full of assassins, who find that their different jobs are all connected. 

The overnight bullet train journey lasts 12.5 hours, giving the characters plenty of time to fight over a mysterious briefcase and piece together the mystery of who hired them all. 

The movie has a star-studded cast, with Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Bad Bunny, and Zazie Beetz as skilled assassins working with and against each other. Bullock, Shannon, Joey King, and Logan Lerman appear in the film, too.

Viewers will note that Bullet Train features impressive shots of the Japanese countryside, including Mt. Fuji. However, the movie was entirely shot in California. 

While some might assume the movie’s train is just like the real-life bullet train — called Shinkansen — many point out the differences between fact and fiction. 

What ‘Bullet Train’ got wrong, from train speed to ‘Quiet Cars’

While the characters of Bullet Train are onboard for 12.5 hours, that same journey on the real-life bullet train takes just 2.5 hours. Extending the journey ten hours means the movie’s bullet train probably wasn’t going very fast at all. Redditors have joked that this is because of a lack of railways: “Americans don’t understand the concept of high-speed rail.”

Some other differences? In Bullet Train, Pitt and Tyree Henry take part in a memorable fight sequence in a “quiet car.” This means all passengers must keep it down; if they want to chat, they can move to one of the other cars. According to Japan Rail Pass, there are no “Quiet Cars” on Shinkansen trains in real life. 

In the movie’s beginning, Pitt’s handler (Bullock) directs him to a locker on the train platform. In real Japanese train stations, lockers are available, but they are not located on the platform. 

‘Bullet Train’ got some details right

Some discrepancies between real life and the movie are simply style choices. For example, as Japan Rail Pass explains, the stewardess uniforms worn by Karen Fukuhara and Beetz resemble the ones worn by Shinkansen stewardesses but are more stylized. 

The fictional “Nippon Speed Line” that Bullet Train’s characters are riding on isn’t real, but it also resembles the real Shinkansen line that goes from Tokyo to Kyoto. 

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