Murder on the Orient Express review
I think it’s been a while since we’ve seen a classic murder mystery film. What’s interesting is that there’s thousands of books, but not too many of them get adaptations let alone into film. Why? Their not easy to write and they manage to keep a lot of detail to plot and character in order to twist and turn the final answer of “who did it”. I can only conclude that mystery seems to have a better life on television as in that medium, those elements can not only stretch further then a films runtime, but can probably better play around the viewers ideas on what’s going on.
Given all of that, today’s movie is a remake of Murder on the Orient Express, based off of the acclaimed novel by Agatha Christie. While I know she has written a large amount of books, her mysteries has been adapted countless times. What made Murder on the Orient Express (and what a lot of mysteries had incorporated) good was how tight and claustrophobic the situation was. It also had the luck of having Hercule Poirit, a detective with crazy attention to detail, to solve the mystery. While he hasn’t had the same attention as Sherlock Holmes, he’s made his stance has his journeys have filled over thirty novels. Let’s see if Murder on the Orient Express can improve from the previous adaptions.
In 1934, Hercule Poirot (played by Kenneth Branagh) is about to embark on a much needed break after solving a recent mystery in Jerusalem. He is still under his oath that within most cases, there is only right or wrong. In needing to return to London, he’s given a spot on the Orient Express, which seems to be fully booked. He’s approached by an American businessman Samuel Ratchett (played by Johnny Depp) to work for him, but Poirot declines. The next morning, Ratchett is found to have been stabbed to death.
An avalanche has also derailed the steam engine, stranding the rest of the passengers. Poirot decides to take the case to curb his boredom. It’s on this train he interviews all the suspects; wet nurse Pilar (played by Penélope Cruz), scientist Gerhard (played by William Defoe), the princess Dragomiroff (played by Judi Dench) accountant Hector (played by Josh Gad), Doctor Arbuthnot (played by Leslie Odom Jr.), traveler Caroline (played by Michelle Pfeiffer), and Mary (played by Daisy Ridley).
I better stop there as most mysteries are best when you know as little as possible. Kenneth Branagh is also in the director’s chair for Murder on the Orient Express, and for what I expected, I was surprised. I haven’t seen the original, nor have I read the book, but I can say I was intrigued, even if the story is a tad overstuffed. It’s common for a lot of mysteries to have a lot of characters, but given what exactly is being solved, it may have benefited to cut two or three of the background characters in order to tighten everything.
Though even with the over abundance of characters, all the main actors shine, especially Kenneth Branagh, whose very likable and a fun guy to follow. His accent and tone has the right balance of over-the-top and subtle makes him seem like someone who could be that eccentric and smart. If I had to pick my other favorites, I’d say that they were Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, and Michelle Pfeiffer, who do a lot with the material their characters are given. That’s not to put a damper on everyone else. This is compelling enough that it goes a long with the long dialogue.
Now for those expecting a lot of action will want to look elsewhere. Murder on the Orient Express is very dialogue heavy, as a lot of mysteries are. Where it can make up to curb boredom is the cinematography and editing. The movie is beautiful looking and contain the element of a grand scope feeling that most Kenneth Branagh movies have. Many of the flashbacks are shown which has a neat “old Hollywood” look to them that gives this movie a bigger sense on nostalgia.
I’ll give this four Orient Express train posters out of five. I can’t fully embrace this as great piece of art, but I’m glad I saw Murder on the Orient Express. The imagery looks nice enough that I’d recommend that you view it on the big screen. If your not looking for something that is a definite slow burn, this isn’t for you. Take the train and see if this kills for you.