After a little over two hours of sudden surprises in David Leitch’s over-the-top action extravaganza Bullet Train, there’s one final surprise: There’s no post-credits scene. That feels unusual in a movie that’s so overtly about callbacks and yes-ands, about piling gags on top of gags, about one-upping even the most ludicrous action bit with just one more twist. Like Leitch’s previous projects, John Wick, Hobbs & Shaw, Atomic Blonde, and Deadpool 2, Bullet Train is more than a little tongue-in-cheek about its excess. But thanks to the source material, Kotaro Isaka’s novel Bullet Train, the film is also fairly obsessive about justifying each leap of logic, even if it sets up more improbable coincidences in the process.
So the lack of a final stinger gag feels out of sync with the rest of the action, but it also feels like a lost opportunity for a movie that’s so blatantly focused on explaining how every single puzzle piece fits together. There’s an odd plot hole in the middle of it all, and a post-credits scene would have been the perfect place to fill it in.
[Ed. note: Minor plot spoilers ahead, mostly for something that doesn’t happen in Bullet Train.]
Early in the film, smash-and-grab mercenary “Ladybug” (Brad Pitt) accidentally loses his ticket for the titular bullet train. When he boards, a conductor (Heroes’ Masi Oka) confronts him, and is incensed that he doesn’t have a ticket. The conductor orders him to disembark at the next stop. Ladybug tries to, but circumstances (and his own much-discussed improbable bad luck) interfere. When he sees the conductor again, he gets a more forceful warning to leave the train. Ladybug starts making frantic efforts to avoid the conductor, and the scene is set for an escalating face-off between them.
But it never happens. Masi Oka magically disappears from the film, and no more is said about it. For that matter, the train doesn’t appear to have drivers, and the staffers mostly disappear as well. Unlike other aspects of the film’s gleefully complicated scenario, this one never gets explained. Apart from one concessions seller played by criminally underused martial artist Karen Fukuhara (Katana from the 2016 Suicide Squad, and Kimiko from The Boys), the train crew just… evaporates.
Given how thorough the rest of Bullet Train is about explaining other aspects of the trip — how X character found out about Y, what happened to the rest of the passengers along the journey, and more — that unexplained disappearance and dropped plot thread feel like a real anomaly. This is a movie that sets aside a minute for a montage explaining the provenance and journey of a single water bottle, for God’s sake. (Granted, it’s a blatant piece of product placement, but it’s a funny one. Still, it illustrates Bullet Train’s commitment to the bit, as far as trying to keep the connections between every discrete element of the film clear.)
As Bullet Train progresses, the bodies stack up, and more and more of the cars fill up with blood, smashed glass, and impromptu weapons, it becomes more and more improbable that the train’s crew never notices or intervenes. It also becomes increasingly odd that all the expensive booze and food — not to mention that £20 water bottle — are left unguarded. It all feels like the setup for one final gag explaining how Masi Oka and the crew disappeared.
But that gag never comes. The film certainly isn’t short on ways to accidentally or purposefully kill them off, and it doesn’t lack dramatic or comedic reasons to do so. It also never runs short of coincidences that might have booted them off the train or called them away. Maybe in some future Blu-ray release, we’ll find out about a cut scene that reveals Oka’s fate. Until then, don’t settle down in the theater (or on your couch, once it hits streaming) waiting for a final resolution, because it isn’t coming.