What starts out as a lavish train ride through Europe quickly unfolds into one of the most stylish, suspenseful and thrilling mysteries ever told. From the novel by best-selling author Agatha Christie, “Murder on the Orient Express” tells the tale of thirteen strangers stranded on a train, where everyone’s a suspect. One man must race against time to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again. Kenneth Branagh directs and leads an all-star cast including Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley and Josh Gad.
What We Thought:
Murder on the Orient Express is a perfectly fine film. There’s too much talent for it not to be at least watchable. It shouldn’t wow too many people, but it’s a decent film for adults.
I’ve never read Agatha Christie’s novel nor have I seen any visual versions of it so the story/case was new to me. From what others told me, the plot is the same as it’s always been. So if you have read the book or have seen a previous version, you’re not in for any surprises.
If, like me, you aren’t familiar with the story, you should be able to figure out the ending. There’s enough in the story to figure out what is connected and useful and what isn’t. How the person is killed and why makes enough sense even if I was secretly hoping it was going to be the like royally underrated film Clue. I wanted a lot of it to be a red herring or that there would be multiple endings, but it’s a Kenneth Branagh film so nope, didn’t get any of that.
Speaking of Branagh he’s good as the famed Hercule Poirot. Like every great detective, he has odd mannerisms and quirks. Plus he has an impressive moustache. I think fans will appreciate Branagh’s take on the character. If you don’t know Poirot, thinks Sherlock Holmes meets Dr. House.
The supporting cast of Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Lucy Boynton, Leslie Odom Jr. and Josh Gad are all fine. Lucy Boynton continues to impress me and they all look the part and sound the part.
The biggest positives for the film are the direction, cinematography and set design. The interior of the Orient Express looks period correct. It has some great detail as does the wardrobe. The clothing is also spot on.
Branagh’s direction, especially some of his tracking shots, add to the intensity and vibe of the film. There are a couple of tracking shots of the characters entering the train and walking through it that are fantastic. There are shots up and over people and the train that are visually cool as well. It feels claustrophobic and tense at times.
Murder on the Orient Express seems like a good update without changing much at the same time. I honestly have no idea how well the movie will do at the box office. The cast is big and popular, but are enough adults interested in seeing the latest version? Will non-fans and those not familiar with Agatha Christie see it?
Cast & Crew:
- Penelope Cruz
- Willem Dafoe
- Judi Dench
- Johnny Depp
- Michelle Pfeiffer
- Daisy Ridley
- Lucy Boynton
- Leslie Odom Jr.
- Josh Gad
- Kenneth Branagh