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Bullet Train 2022
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
This is a violent and bloody action comedy about hired assassins and other dubious people on a bullet train in Japan traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto. The director David Leitch has become an action movie legend (John Wick, Hobbs & Shaw, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) and the cast is excellent, so it's worth a look even if you're not into snakes in movies. If you are, then you'll enjoy it even more because the snake gets a lot of scenes. If you have ever taken the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, as I did once, you'll have to suspend your disbelief because it's nowhere near as insane as than this train ride.

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At the very beginning of the movie, we see a news report on a hospital TV about a venomous Boomslang snake that was stolen from the Tokyo zoo. We are told that it is extremely dangerous. This TV news exposition is an overused cliche, but it's still a good example of the narrative principle of Checkov's gun - all elements that we see in a story should be necessary - so if we see a gun (or a snake) then it should have a role later in the story. (And yes, bullets do fly on the bullet train.) The snake here shows up several times until it does finally "shoot off" and bite someone, but it's mostly used for comedy and misdirection. It's not very important to the plot. It's as much of a macguffin as the briefcase. Still, I consider this to be a major snake movie due to how many times we see the snake and that it appears at the beginning after it is stolen and at the end when it escapes into the wild as one of the only survivors of the trainwreck. It is also presented to us as an important cast member: when we first see it, it is introduced with a still shot that includes its name in English and Japanese, just as we see for other important characters on the train, including Lemon and Tangerine, The Prince, and The Hornet. She's the assassin who stole the snake because she uses its venom to kill people. She was hired to kill a man on the train, which she does, but she is ultimately killed by her own syringe full of venom.

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Brad Pitt plays a "snatch and grab man" code name Ladybug. He is hired to get on the train and steal a briefcase then leave the train as soon as he can. He finds the briefcase quickly, but he is prevented from leaving the train, so he barricades some doors to keep the owner of the briefcase away in case he tries to retrieve it. (The whole plot depends on the ridiculous premise that the men in charge of the briefcase would stupidly leave it alone for Ladybug to find instead of handcuffing it to their arm like any decent crook would do. It also depends on the fact that all of the violence and mayhem that happens on the train - murders, gunshots, a door blowing off - are completely ignored by all of the passengers and crew.) After Ladybug moves a metal case for his barricade, not knowing that it holds a snake, he sees that it is an animal cage with an open door, then immediately the snake jumps out and strikes at him. It misses, Ladybug backs away cursing in disbelief, and the snake crawls away.

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We see the snake several times later, crawling on the floor of the train, but oddly, nobody panics or makes comments about it or tries to do anything to restrain it. Apparently they didn't see the news report that we saw. One of the assassins wakes up and sees the snake on the floor of the train, as does another man, who thinks he's dreaming, but they're both too preoccupied with their own drama to be concerned about the snake. I could make a joke about a snake on a train, making a comparison to the movie "Snakes On A Plane", but there's already a movie titled "Snakes On A Train", so I won't.

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After he calls her and reports a suspicious dead body on the train, Ladybug's handler (the voice of Sandra Bullock) tells him the victim's symptoms match those of a victim of an assassin for hire called The Hornet (Zazie Beetz) who uses Boomslang venom to kill her victims, causing them to bleed from every orifice. Without the antidote they die in 30 seconds. Shortly afterwards Ladybug sees The Hornet disguised as a train employee. She recognizes him from a previous job and she assumes that because he is also in her line of work that he stole her snake. She also knows that he has the briefcase, which holds the money she is supposed to be paid for killing a man on the train. She attacks Ladybug with a syringe full of Boomslang venom, but he blocks her attack. She then drops the syringe onto his hand. He quickly grabs the syringe and plunges it into her arm then tells her she has 30 seconds to use the antivenom. After a long wait, she finally takes out a syringe with the antivenom, but he is waiting for it and quickly injects himself with the antidote. She has no more antivenom so she bleeds from the eyes and dies. Ladybug says "Karma is a bitch." She's not the only assassin on the train to die from their own murder weapon.

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At last, and we knew this was coming - the snake has to bite someone - Ladybug reaches below a table to pick up a woman's purse and the snake bites him on the hand. He runs around screaming with the snake wrapped around his hand then goes into the bathroom where he takes off his shirt and wraps it around the snake. Then he puts the wrapped snake into the toilet. Apparently he did not flush because later we see that he wrote a note on the toilet lid not to open it because of the snake. That's so funny that I would expect to see it written from now on on all public toilet seat covers except for the fact that public toilets don't usually have seat covers. Nevertheless, I'll be carrying my Sharpie...

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We see the snake one last time after a horrific train crash that should have killed everybody on the train, but killed nobody. We see Ladybug sitting outside the wreckage. He looks over to see the snake crawling away from the wreckage. He looks at it with a bewildered look on his face. Maybe he feels a kinship with the snake because it gets away from the scene of the crime as he does himself. The subject of Ladybug being lucky has is discussed several times in the movie.

The Snake

We see several shots of a real live snake along with some CGI creations, such as when the snake opens its mouth to show its large front fangs. However, the live snake we see is not a Boomslang. (For good reasons - it's too dangerous to use a venomous species, and few people will know or even care that it's really a harmless speciers.) Nevertheless, extra credit goes to the movie for calling the villain a Boomslang. Most movies call their venomous villains cobras, black mambas, or rattlesnakes. Boomslangs are long thin green snakes and this one looks nothing like a reall Boomslang. It appears to be one of the Beauty Rat Snake species, which are native to Asia, where the movie takes place (though it was filmed in California.) A Boomslang is a highly-venomous snake, but its venom is slow-acting, sometimes taking hours to take effect. It does not kill in 30 seconds or cause the victim to bleed from every orifice as we see in the movie. Another snake misconception the movie promotes is that snake antivenom (or antivenin) acts instantaneously, which is not accurate. Sometimes multiple doses of antivenin are necessary and sometimes the patient needs a blood transfusion as well. So even if you can find a Boomslang and you can extract its venom safely, don't try this at home, kids. This is not the first movie to use snake venom in a syringe as a weapon. "The Rhythm Section." Others use snake venom that is delivered to the victim by other methods, as you can see in the Snakes Used as Weapons list.

Here are some other comments about the snake and its venom that I found in the IMDB "Goofs" section:

"The snake portraying the 'boomslang' does not resemble a real boomslang. The patterning is wrong and the real boomslang is distinguished by having a large, black eye. When the snake opens its mouth, it is seen to be front-fanged (boomslangs are rear-fanged), and finally the boomslang is a notoriously shy snake - it would not attack a person as it did to Brad Pitt's character. Without going into the inaccuracies of the effects of boomslang venom, the envisaged effects not very accurate."

"The effects of boomslang venom are shown to be haemorrhaging and displaying severe bleeding, yet the characters refer to the venom as causing 'coagulation' which would actually do the opposite - inhibit bleeding. In reality, boomslang venom does the opposite of coagulation by inhibiting coagulation and promoting bleeding, but less spectacularly than as displayed in the film."