Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017) *Spoiler Free*

Murder on the Orient Express is director, Kenneth Branagh's, adaptation of the Agatha Christie, Poirot, murder mystery novel.

Overall this was an enjoyable movie, though for someone more used to seeing comic book movies of late, I did find it a little slow in places. Not boring, by any means, just a lot more talking than action.

The basic plot is, Detective, Hercule Poirot, gets caught up investigating a murder during a holiday journey he is taking on the Orient Express.

The train features a very exclusive list of passengers who travel in, what I imagine is, quite luxurious style for the time period (1930s).

Branagh plays Poirot as a kind of showman who believes his own hype of being the greatest detective in the world. When the film opens we not only see him solving a case in front of a crowd of very engaged onlookers, but also demonstrating his ability to be several steps ahead of his target.

The remaining ensemble star cast make up the guest list of passengers. All of them seem to get about equal screen time, so if you're watching this movie as a fan of any one of them, you shouldn't be disappointed that other actors hogged the limelight.

That said, it's a lot of characters to balance so none of them get to really explore their characters very deeply on screen. I wouldn't say anyone gives a stand out performance, all the cast do a great job with what they had to work with. Giving you enough of a sense of who their characters are.

Given this is such a famous title, with many previous adaptations, I do wonder if you'd get as much from the film if you have seen any earlier incarnations? Fortunately I hadn't seen any of them so, other than being some what familiar with the main character, Poirot, the actual story and characters were all new to me.

As a murder mystery I didn't really find myself trying to solve the case as the film unfolds. Which I imagine is part of the fun of this type of film. For me the clues weren't getting my mind ticking over to try to make sense of things.

I think I was just more interested in seeing how Poirot solved the case rather than trying to do his work for him. However I was able to see how everything made sense, based on the clues, when the mystery is ultimately solved (that's not a spoiler right? You expect a murder mystery to be solved).

On the surface it looks like a very serious film but it does have welcome, lighter moments of humor. It also took me a while to see past Poirot's famous mustache, which is like none I've ever seen before, and does contribute to at least one lighter moment.

There's also one scene towards the end of the movie that's a kind of blink and you'll miss it homage to a very famous painting (you'll know it when you see it if you're familiar with the painting). The scene has no real business being in the movie and feels like something set up for fun just because the theme and cast kind of lends themselves  to it. I appreciate that they did it but it really doesn't make any sense (which is clearly why it's shown so briefly).

The ending certainly suggests Kenneth is hoping to make more Poirot adaptations. Hopefully these will eventuate.

Although I haven't seen much of other versions of the character (beyond trailers and TV commercials), this take on the character is very watchable, and it seems a while since this kind of 'who dunnit' movie has been done as a major motion picture. It's really a treat to see this kind of film with a stellar cast of major stars in the supporting roles.

If this is to become a franchise, then Murder on the Orient Express is a solid start to the series.

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