Brad Pitt and Aaron Taylor-Johnson promote 'Bullet Train' in Seoul

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, left, and Brad Pitt pose for photos at a local press event Friday at the Conrad Seoul in Yeouido, western Seoul, to promote their film "Bullet Train." [YONHAP]

Would you want to board a train that turns out to be full of ruthless killers?

The answer, for most people, would be no. But would your answer change if you found out that your fellow passengers were stars like Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Benito A Martinez Ocasio and Sandra Bullock? This star-studded cast appear as assassins in the upcoming action comedy film “Bullet Train,” directed by David Leitch.

The film, based on the 2010 Japanese novel “Maria Beetle” by Kotaro Isaka, revolves around a former assassin, codenamed “Ladybug,” portrayed by Brad Pitt, who boards a bullet train traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto tasked with a mission to find and deliver a briefcase to a designated location.

Sounds simple enough, but instead, Ladybug slowly finds out there are other killers aboard the train — all of them who are after the same briefcase.

Before “Bullet Train” hits local theaters this Wednesday, Brad Pitt and Aaron Taylor-Johnson arrived in Seoul Thursday to promote the film. It is Pitt’s fourth visit to Korea and his first in eight years since he last visited Seoul in 2014 for his film “Fury.” His other two visits were for films “Moneyball” in 2011 and “World War Z” in 2013.

Brad Pitt portrays a former assassin codenamed Ladybug, who believes he has the worst luck in the world. [SONY PICTURES]

Pitt has made a name for himself as a producer in recent years. He founded the production company Plan B that is behind films such as “The Departed” (2006), “12 Years a Slave” (2013) and “Moonlight” (2016), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The company is also behind “Minari” (2020), for which actor Youn Yuh-jung won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress last year, becoming the first-ever Korean to win an Oscar. Plan B is also behind the production of another highly-anticipated sci-fi film “Mickey7,” which director Bong Joon-ho writes, directs and co-produces.

Taylor-Johnson became familiar to local audience thanks to his recent roles in Marvel’s “Avengers” series, “Tenet” (2020) and “The King’s Man” (2021).

“'Bullet Train’ is about seven sociopaths who all board the train at once [...] but none of them know each other,” Pitt said during a local press event on Friday held at the Conrad Seoul in Yeouido, western Seoul. “It’s a great summer action adventure — it’s hilarious, it’s got some great performance and we think it just the perfect summer film.”

Ladybug finds out that the bullet train that he boarded on is full of killers with their eyes on a briefcase he is carrying. In this scene, another assassin codenamed Tangerine, portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, attempts to wrestle information out o

As Pitt says, the film is purely created for entertainment, with a fusion of fast-paced colorful narrative, banter between the assassins as they try to kill each other, and some jaw-dropping action sequences as the professional killers battle each other in the confined space of train, sometimes full of civilians.

The assassins, ironically, each have their humane sides despite their profession, adding another element of comedy to the narrative.

“[The character of] Ladybug, is what we call in America, the chump,” Pitt said. “He’s the guy who can’t [even] get out of his way. He’s always getting it wrong [...] [Basically, the film is about] luck and fate, how much are we puppets of faith or do we have free will? That’s amongst the delivery system of great action and comedy.”

Taylor-Johnson portrays a professional killer codenamed Tangerine who is always beside his partner-in-crime, Lemon, portrayed by Brian Tyree Henry. The pair is referred to as “The Twins.”

Beside Tangerine, on the left, is Lemon, portrayed by Brian Tyree Henry. The duo are referred to as "The Twins." [SONY PICTURES]

“The character [of Tangerine] just really pops off the page,” Taylor-Johnson said. “Tangerine and Lemon are twins, they are brothers, partners in crime, they are really yin and yang. They bounce off one another and they bring a little humor, [but also] very intense and kind of unpredictable and slightly scary.”

The fast-paced bickering between the two characters is a big proportion of the comedy in the film. Taylor-Johnson says that despite their constant bickering, the love the two characters have for each other is genuine.

“You could see it on the screen,” he said. “These two brothers that have empathy and love for each other even though they are crazy, killing assassins. They have this beautiful strong bond and love for one another, so it was really important to bring that to the character.”

Pitt says the film’s action stunts are inspired by those of Jackie Chan and Charlie Chaplin.

“David Leitch, our director, is an old friend,” Pitt said. “He used to be my stunt coordinator. We met on ‘Fight Club’ [1999] where he acted as a stunt double [of my character]. He is also in ‘Troy’ [2004], ‘Mr & Mrs. Smith’ [2005] and he went on to become a director of his own movies. But over the years we always talked about [works of] Jackie Chan and Charlie Chaplin. [The film is] like a nod of respect in that direction.”

Ladybug and Tangerine form a truce to save tehmselves from "The White Death," a fearsome Russian leader of a Japanese criminal organization. [SONY PICTURES]

Taylor-Johnson, who revealed to the local press that he had samgyetang, or chicken ginseng soup, with kkakdugi, or diced radish kimchi, on Thursday, implicitly implied he hopes to come back to Korea to promote his next film, “Kraven the Hunter,” expected to be released globally next year. The actor will star as another Marvel character, Kraven the Hunter, a formidable adversary in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe.

“I’d love to come back here to share it with you,” he said. “It’s ‘Kraven the Hunter’ from the Marvel Comics, another Marvel-Sony movie, and we’ve just finished shooting that in London. It’s really an epic adventure, I’m thrilled to show you guys. You’re going to be pumped with that one.”