Dir: Kenneth Branagh; Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Tom Bateman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Colman, Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Sergei Polunin, Lucy Boynton, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Derek Jacobi. 12A cert, 114 min
Film Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Murder mysteries have been absenting in pop culture for a long time now, with TV series taking over the rich genre as gas transitioned to small screen iterations. I definitely love an intelligent well-written detective story, with each new clue propelling viewers forward in uncovering dark cases.
Agatha Christie has created arguably the most famous detective with Belgian Hercule Poirot first appearing in the 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express, bringing a famous character into audience’s hearts. Countless on-screen iterations have been created as the bearded detective tackles ground-breaking cases, but with the push for new franchises can he work in a movie? Hollywood sure hope. Can it push forward the genre? Find out as Jordan Samuel reviews Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
A lavish trip through Europe quickly unfolds into a race against time to solve a murder aboard a train. Everyone’s a suspect when Detective Hercule Poirot arrives to interrogate all passengers and search for clues before the killer can strike again.
I remember growing up with my mother always watching obscure, and well-established detective shows, as the full cases gave tension in all areas with the most exciting programme being Poirot (1989). A Belgian crime investigator with a set of eyes for murders which never bats eyelids at the essential clues, with countless episodes places him in the big leagues with ITV pushing it as their signature show.
Agatha Christie’s creation is now a pop culture icon with immatures trying to match the well-written investigations, resulting in Hollywood bringing the iconic detective into a big screen franchise. But do the results work? It’s time to delve into the Kenneth Branagh (Thor) ensemble adaption of Murder on the Oirent Express (2017)
I walked out of the Hollywood adaptation of Agatha Christie’s best work incredibly underwhelmed with the results, which takes steps in providing a big budget adaption but ends feeling like an extended TV movie filled with few superstar actors.
Besides Branagh delivering a solid performance as the lead, everything in Murder on the Orient Express (2017) feels formulaic, with the shockingly cheap looking CGI removing itself from the mysterious settings and themes in the book. It lacks the punch needed to keep me on toes instead just takes the easy route, explaining details to the audience instead of us figuring out the murderous case
Hollywood tries to make an exciting tension-filled experience, but squanders it for hours of interviews which do not make for intriguing viewing: instead, follows one note and standard progression. Shockingly the massive cast list does not get enough time to flourish because of the rugged structure, wasting such outstanding talent for a couple of hours.
Kenneth Branagh (Thor) does not utilise all their assets instead just dresses up the cast members without his renown direction, making everything feel mismanaged and cluttered. It felt like the actors weren’t involved in giving us reason to care about all the train passengers, with Poirot being the only likeable cast member.
The story revolves around Poirot boarding the famous Orient Express in Istanbul, heading towards Calais, and finds himself in a random murder case on board. Filled with mysterious characters including Russian Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench) and her maid Hildegarde Schmidt (Olivia Colman), governess Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley) and her romantic interest Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jr.), German academic Gerhard Hardman (Willem Dafoe); an over religious Pilar Estravados (Penélope Cruz); widow Mrs. Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer); Russian dancer Count Andrenyi (Sergei Polunin) and his wife, Countess Andrenyi (Lucy Boyton) crooked businessman Marquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo). There is also a mysterious American art dealer, Ratchett (Johnny Depp), accompanied with his Masterman (Derek Jacobi), and private secretary, Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad). When one of these people is found murdered, the most celebrated detective has a case on hand to complete.
While the significant cast is tantalising only the gangster, Ratchett (Johnny Depp) gets a deep with a majority of the film explaining everyone’s connections to the notorious induvial. Poirot must complete the puzzle around the dodgy dealer, resulting in some intense and well-directed scenes between Depp and Branagh.
I sadly did not like the detective elements of the movie, due to bafflingly poor filming angles which just make the whole experience pain to discover. Perhaps, taking it down a notch would have granted a streamlined case for audiences. Instead, Murder on the Orient Express (2017) tries too hard for its sound.
Once the murder is outed, the story goes into overdrive with silly overcomplicated interviews giving audiences too many points to cross-examine. And once the killer is outed in a bizarre climax, I just didn’t care enough to be propounded by completely wasting time. Murder on the Orient Express (2017) is a disappointing movie, which scrabbles ideas for a cast to play dress up and not focus on the whole murder elements: resulting in a crummy effort from Britons grandest director.