In the new and patently ridiculous action flick Bullet Train, Brad Pitt plays a contract criminal on a simple snatch-and-grab job to secure a briefcase containing $10 million. The case is located on, yes, a bullet train.
Pitt receives contemporaneous instructions from his handler over the phone and his job is to get on at one station, grab the goods, and get off at the next. Seeing as this is a movie – something like Kill Bill meets Kung-Fu Hustle – I am sure you can guess that nothing goes to plan. Instead, Pitt is left to deal with a train full of criminals all unknowingly caught up in an impossibly intertwined scenario.
As a result, the only thing left to do is fight each other, relentlessly, on a moving train. Pitt kicks some serious ass in this film, and does so wearing a precious metal vintage revival from a blue-chip independent watch brand.
Why We’re Watching
Today is opening day for this moderately anticipated action-comedy, which is directed by Pitt’s former stuntman, David Leitch (it’s like the plot of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood come to life). I had the chance to attend an early screening and I had a blast. If you get squeamish around spurting blood, this one might not be for you. However, if you love a stellar showing from a watch on the silver screen and can manage to look past some pretty intense (and often pretty hilarious) over-the-top violence, in order to see said watch, I’d recommend you check this out.
Pitt plays Ladybug (a codename, not a real name – this is the kind of movie where everyone has a codename). He’s a hired thief/ would-be assassin who finds himself in hand-to-hand combat with a team of other assassins he’s crossed paths with on other jobs in the past. I won’t spoil the reason they find themselves on this train together, but let’s just say that they don’t necessarily get along, and that Ladybug takes part in some fantastically choreographed scenes that balance action and humor perfectly.
Is this a great film? No, but it’s a quintessential summer popcorn flick – and an even better watch movie, because Ladybug does all this ass-kicking wearing a particular Breitling vintage revival.
The Breitling AVI Ref. 765 1953 Re-edition, released in 2021, is a modern re-edition of a vintage Breitling from 1953 (shocker) and is a full stop vintage-meets-modern watch. Last year, we spent A Week on the Wrist with the steel variant of this model and our own Cole Pennington had some interesting things to say while comparing the new watch to the OG upon which it’s based. “If the ’53 model were NOS [new old stock] and hadn’t aged a single day, I would have had a seriously hard time telling them apart,” he writes. “Even the difference in weight between the watches is indiscernible.”
Now, Pitt chose this watch to wear in the film, but he didn’t just choose any variation. He went full movie star and opted for the platinum model with the blue dial. Only Pitt can strap a platinum vintage re-edition to his wrist for a balls-to-the-wall action movie, and make it look commonplace. Speaking of straps, he even swapped the leather strap it comes on for something a bit more rugged from Breitling.
I know what you’re all thinking, “Come on, Danny, Brad Pitt is a Breitling ambassador! This is nothing more than product placement.” Well you’re right, Pitt is a Breitling brand ambassador. In fact, more specifically, he’s a member of the Breitling Cinema Squad, alongside Adam Driver and Charlize Theron. But you know what? Who cares, because Pitt could have easily worn any old watch Breitling wanted him to. Perhaps something more modern, perhaps something the brand had a serious interest in selling. But that’s not what went down here. Instead, he picked the most esoteric version of an uber-specific vintage re-edition and made it part of his character in the film. Just because he’s paid by the brand doesn’t mean the choice can’t be thoughtful.
And he wears this watch for the entire film. It’s visible constantly, though the amount of fighting makes it difficult to laser in on it in some moments. The best part is that the film features a hero-shot close-up of the watch that might be the best I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s the sort of shot you could pause, frame, and hang on the wall if you were so inclined (though even I would find that a strange thing to do).
Personally, I love the choice of watch for Ladybug. He plays a somewhat aloof character. A criminal who’s recently been through some soul searching and therapy, and is looking to improve his mental health while continuing to operate in the criminal underworld. Who knows if some big score in his past gave him a briefcase full of cash to go out and buy this platinum Breitling or if it’s supposed to represent a vintage watch that may have been passed down to him. In either case, it looks damn good. I mean, what can’t Brad Pitt pull off?
When We’re Watching
Close to the midway point in the film, Ladybug comes face to face with an assassin on the train named Tangerine (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The two immediately become locked in hand-to-hand combat as Tangerine knows Ladybug is after the same briefcase he’s after. They fight through various train cars until they reach the dining car. Amidst the hitting, kicking, and throwing of objects, the two are interrupted by one of the train’s staff members who needs to re-stock some food. Oblivious to the fight that preceded her entrance, the staff member asks them if they want anything to eat or drink. Ladybug hilariously asks for a bottle of water, and as he does, we can see the ’53 Re-Edition on his wrist. He proceeds to drink said water until she leaves, at which point … they fight again.
Later on, Ladybug comes in contact with yet another assassin and a major fight ensues. Notice a theme here? After the fight, which I definitely will not spoil, Ladybug has a bit of an anxiety attack and takes refuge on the floor of the train with a paper bag in his hand. As he attempts to breathe in and breathe out the stress, we can see the Breitling and its leather strap on his wrist very clearly. As you might expect, this won’t be his last fight.
Bullet Train (starring Brad Pitt) is directed by David Leitch. It is now playing in theaters everywhere.
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