Aaron Taylor-Johnson is rumored to be up for the role of James Bond, succeeding Daniel Craig. A 2022 actioner shows just how strong a choice he is.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson has emerged as one of the potential candidates to replace Daniel Craig in the James Bond franchise. It’s a potent choice for several reasons. Taylor-Johnson is no stranger to big-budget action movies, having risen to fame as the title character in the original Kick-Ass, among a plethora of other titles. His pure acting skills are nothing to sneeze at either, with the ability to disappear into a wide variety of roles. He’s more than capable of handling the challenges that come with 007.
Proof of the pudding came in one of the most underrated movies of 2022. Bullet Train, the wild action-comedy about a gaggle of assassins at odds with each other on Japan’s famously speedy rail line, features a plum role for Taylor-Johnson. His performance leaves little doubt that he would make a stellar James Bond.
What Is Bullet Train About?
Bullet Train follows five hitmen of various persuasions on a memorable trip from Tokyo to Kyoto aboard a Shinkansen bullet train. All of them believe they are pursuing different goals — mostly involving the wastrel son of Russian mob boss “The White Death” and a briefcase with $10 million — that are all mysteriously connected. Brad Pitt’s “Ladybug” is the centerpiece, experiencing a career crisis and just trying to get the briefcase and get off the train without having to hurt anyone. But the other four killers all contribute to the same chaotic variation of the blind men and the elephant. Each of them holds a piece of a puzzle that they’re too busy trying to kill each other to solve.
The film’s tone strikes some very Bondian notes. Though its hard-R violence is a tad more extreme than 007’s more family-friendly PG-13 hijinks, it embraces the same mixture of kinetic fight scenes and witty exchanges beneath a surprisingly complex plot. For a tale of stone-cold killers, Bullet Train stays quite light most of the time, and the twists and turns are sufficiently clever to keep audiences hooked until the final reel. As different as it can be from the Bond franchise, the material definitely shares some DNA.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Performance in Bullet Train Makes Him a Perfect 007
Taylor-Johnson plays “Tangerine,” one half of a duo hired by The White Death to retrieve his son and the briefcase. Their plans quickly go sideways when the son ends up dead, and the briefcase goes missing, which sends them both careening into the train’s ongoing human pinball game in surprising ways. The actor plays chameleon, as usual — vanishing beneath a cockney accent and quietly brutal eyes — but as he does so, he shows his strengths as a potential 007-in-waiting.
That includes a punishing bout of physical acting from the film’s numerous fight scenes, which he handles adroitly. Bullet Train also includes many more elaborate set pieces of the kind that Bond movies thrive on, and again, the actor tackles them with energy and aplomb. The biggest example entails Tangerine leaping on the back of the train just as it departs the station, then smashing through a window before the increasing velocity. Bond movies often live or die by such moments. Taylor-Johnson looks like he was born for them.
But beyond that, it’s the fact that he does it all with a lot of style that puts him in the running for 007. Tangerine is a far different figure, but his outfit, hair, and overall demeanor give him a seemingly effortless cool that Bond absolutely requires. He finds a genuine personality as well, though the cast as a whole does an excellent job of maintaining the characters’ humanity in what might otherwise be a live-action Roadrunner cartoon. As a calling card for one of the biggest franchises in the world, Taylor-Johnson makes a statement with Bullet Train. The film itself benefits immeasurably from the results.
To check out Taylor-Johnson’s performance, Bullet Train is now available to stream on Netflix.