Movie #294 2020: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Phwoar. What a cast! So many Oscar winners in one photo it’s ridiculous. And everyone loves a bit of Agatha Christie, don’t they? With the amount of countless adaptations – both movie and television – of her works, you’d think so.

This adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express comes from the mind of Kenneth Branagh, who seems like the right person to direct some Christie seeing as he has a prestigious theatre and dramatic arts training background. If you weren’t aware already, here’s a run down of the plot. Quite basic in premise, you get what it says on the tin. By that, I mean that the title tells you all you need to know. There’s a murder. And it takes place on the Orient Express. Based almost entirely on the novel, the viewer is taken on a journey of a murder mystery, where we learn who committed the crime and just how it happened.

Costume, score, set decoration, and props-wise, this movie is glorious. Nothing is out of place and everything in shot only adds to the mystery. It’s all very lovely to look at – you have to give Branagh that. 

Most surprisingly, there’s a really fun use of cinematography in this. Branagh makes particularly good use of the windows and the reflections in the glass that is abundant on trains. Some really interesting and inventive shots that I personally really appreciated and did not expect from this whatsoever.

Everyone knows that the source material for this adaptation is iconic; even if you’ve never read it, you’ve probably heard of it. Agatha Christie’s writing was interesting and mysterious and brilliant, so everything was laid out already for this movie. Sadly it seems that although there was an air of enigma within it, the sense of intrigue wasn’t pushed far enough. As a viewer, I did attempt to make some guesses (I had no idea of the story beforehand), but I wasn’t completely enveloped in theory throughout, which is usually the most exciting part about a murder mystery.

As an ensemble cast, everyone here is excellent, which was to be expected. Michelle PfeifferLeslie Odom Jr., and Olivia Colman particularly excelled in their respective roles. However, not everyone was super convincing. For example, I found myself wishing Branagh had cast someone else in the role of Poirot, but at least he did well enough for me to get over it quickly. And let’s face it, although Poirot himself is the centre of what’s going on, it’s the suspects that are the stars of the show. So when you look at the bigger picture, he doesn’t get that much screen time regardless.

It’s relatively obvious that quite a bulk of money was thrown at this, and as a result it was a really well made and pretty movie. However, it’s just not as gripping as it should be. A for effort, C- for originality.

Murder on the Orient Express is available to rent on Amazon and the Sky Store for £3.49 in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Enjoyability Rating: 

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