Note: This is a spoiler-free Murder On The Orient Express review
We all love the world of explosions, superheroes, and magic. Suspending belief is part of the Hollywood charm. Sometimes you’re looking for something different than loud noises and saving the world, however.
Murder On The Orient Express is a nice change of pace from the typical 2017 movie, bringing thought, drama, suspense, and mystery to the screen.
Full disclosure right off the bat — I have never read the novel by Agatha Christie, and I have never seen the original Murder On The Orient Express. So my review can only speak to this film independently.
That said, this adaptation of the book makes me want to read Christie’s version. The dialogue and story are both meticulous and intricate in the 2017 version. I can only assume the book is the same, if not more. Credit to writer Michael Green here, who took a classic novel as the foundation and built a well-constructed film with it.
You go into Murder On The Orient Express expecting mystery and suspense, and the film delivers on both those fronts. The film twists and turns multiple times throughout, keeping you guessing. We take a deep dive into the lives of 13 characters to solve a murder that seems to have a fluid conclusion until the end.
The film also has a fast pace to it. It can’t be easy adapting a novel in 114 minutes, but Murder On The Orient Express finds a way. The same fact heightens the importance of every scene, and no detail should be forgotten along the way. The movie opens up and comes together in a fun way, but also in a way that will go over your head if you’re not ready for it.
In other words, this is not just a simple popcorn movie. Murder On The Orient Express requires some thought and attention, and I mean that in the best way possible.
As far as the acting is concerned, the names are actually bigger than the performances.
The only real standout performance comes from Kenneth Branagh as world-renowned detective Hercule Poirot. Poirot is a Sherlock Holmes type who possesses the attention to detail you wish you had while watching the film. He’s also sharp, witty, and lands dry humor the way I wish I did. Also, great mustache.
Poirot experiences an internal conflict he’s not used to in Murder On The Orient Express, adding another twist to the film. Branagh brings all that emotion to life in a way where you recognize just the character and not the actor.
For what it’s worth, Branagh also directs the film. I always think it’s a good idea to give an actor props for directing a movie he or she is starring in, so props. Also, cinematically, there are some unique shots that give a different perspective. It’s an interesting view that fits the tone of the film. All-around nice job by Branagh in that department.
Other than Branagh, everyone pretty much plays a smaller role that accumulates into a bigger story. Here are the Cliffs Notes about our other famous friends in Murder On The Orient Express.
- Among the characters not named Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer‘s performance as Caroline Hubbard stands out most
- It’s nice to see Daisy Ridley doing something non-Star Wars. She shows off her acting chops in an interrogation scene.
- The character of Edward Ratchett is perfect for Johnny Depp.
- Josh Gad continues to show talent in almost every role he plays. This time around it’s the suspicious Hector McQueen.
- Willem Dafoe is just a bit off and twisted as Gerdard Hardman. In other words, he’s Willem Dafoe.
All your other favorites, including Judi Dench and Penélope Cruz, play a role but are more forgettable than anything else. It happens with a cast this big in stature.
Should I Go See Murder On The Orient Express?
If you’re simply looking to turn your brain off and eat some popcorn, Murder On The Orient Express is not for you. I also can’t speak to how true the film is to the book, or if it does the book “justice”. However, if you’re looking for a fun night out where the discussion is sure to continue after the movie, this is the one for you.
Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox