Murder on the Orient Express, based on Agatha Christie’s novel (1934) and directed by Kenneth Branagh, is a beautiful and entertaining journey that leads to a wonderfully intricate conclusion. The film is classified as a crime/drama/mystery, but it’s as amusing as it is intriguing to watch the plot unfold. While riding the Orient Express on route to London, a murder is discovered onboard the train and Hercule Poirot (Keneth Branagh), “The world’s best detective,” is commissioned to uncover the murderer.
Branagh takes his time establishing Poirot as a character then moves onto the rest of the passengers of the train, letting the mystery unfold at a natural pace. The plot is great, and Branagh does a great job of taking his time setting it all up without letting the film drag. However, there are a few odd scenes that seem intended to further Poirot’s character development but only disrupt the pacing of the film—though this may have more to do with the screenplay by Michael Green.
Poirot is a fully and well-established character of Christie’s that she incorporates into many of her novels. It may be that a better degree of familiarity with the rest of her work would make sense of these random scenes. (Who is Katherine?) These short scenes are not jarring enough to ruin the film but do arouse curiosity.
This is not the first time a movie based on Christie’s novel, Murder on the Orient Express, has been attempted. It’s been years since the first film was released in 1974, and—though I haven’t seen the original—I’d say it’s the best time for a remake. With the use of special effects and a budget big enough for huge casts of extras and extravagant sets, Murder on the Orient Express (2017) is a beautifully captivating film. I haven’t wanted to ride a train this badly since watching The Polar Express (2004).
The cast does a superb job, with lots of big-name actors working together in, what seems like, perfect harmony. You’ll be excited to see a cast full of familiar faces: Johnny Depp as Ratchett, Michelle Pfieffer as Mrs. Hubbard, Judi Dench as Princess Dragomiroff, Penélope Cruz as Pilar Estravados, Willem Dafoe as Hardman, and Daisy Ridley, starring as Rey in her upcoming film Star Wars: The The Last Jedi (2017), as Mary Debenham. The cast does not disappoint.
Murder on the Orient Express is kind of like watching a more exciting, live-action version of Clue. It’ll be a leisurely yet entertaining 1 hr. and 54 min. If it weren’t for the intense, graphic violence, I’d say this film could have been a family film, but it definitely deserves its PG-13 rating. Murder on the Orient Express is out now in a theater near you.