Violent fun abounds in ‘Day Shift’ and ‘Bullet Train’Aug 12, 2022 02:15PM ● By Jenniffer Wardell
Day Shift (Netflix)
“Day Shift” evolves on you.
When the movie opens, you think you have a good handle on what’s coming. Single father in a gritty, thankless job (which here just happens to be vampire hunting) has to earn money for an upcoming deadline. It’s the set-up for a very specific type of movie, one where the hero will crash his way through a series of poor decisions and violent interactions, calling in a friend at one point for help.
On some level, “Day Shift” is that movie. As the movie progresses, though, you’ll find it’s also a mismatched buddy comedy that only gets more endearing. It’s a solid “defeating evil” story where the bad guys are both suitably scary and have a plan that actually seems practical. It’s a little bit of an office comedy.
And, perhaps most importantly, it’s one of the most interesting, well-built vampire movies we’ve gotten in awhile. From the beginning, “Day Shift” is both careful and thorough with its worldbuilding, creating a world where daytime vampire hunting is just a more violent version of cleaning pools. It’s a blue-collar job, with all the annoying office politics, but for the hunters who are paying attention there are also complex power networks at play.
The movie’s heavier on the action and horror than it is on the comedy, though there are some funny moments. The action scenes are all excellent, with some little touches you might not expect (hint: check the mirrors). There are also a few entertaining surprises, which I will carefully not tell you more about because I don’t want to spoil the fun.
Just make sure you watch all the way to the end. It’s a ride, but it’ll be worth it.
Grade: Three and a half stars
Bullet Train (In theaters)
If you like your humor with a healthy dose of violence, “Bullet Train” is a lot of fun.
The movie, which involves a lot of violent people all trying to get the same briefcase on a high-speed bullet train, is mostly a slapstick comedy with a lot of blood. The plot is tissue-paper thin, except for a few key places, and though the dialogue flows a little too thick to qualify as witty banter it can also be pretty funny. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then you’re going to enjoy the ride.
Brad Pitt confirms that he’s actually pretty good at comedy, a fact he already reminded us of last year in a bit part in “Lost City.” There are a handful of funny bit parts here as well, only one of which is spoiled by the trailers, and every one of them is a pleasant surprise.
The odd part is those few places where the movie does get serious. There’s a background plot going on that’s quite dark on a couple of different levels, in a different way than all the onscreen murders. There’s also a few key scenes with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry, who are both funny most of the time but also manage to be absolutely heartbreaking.
When it stops being so serious, though, “Bullet Train” is a bloody, frenetic treat.
Grade: Three stars
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Association. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at [email protected]. λ