Agatha Christie's classic novel comes to life in the 2017 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express. The new film does what it can to stay on track.
We've seen this story play out on-screen before, and the new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express does what it can to remain consistent with its source material. But is it all flash and no substance?
For the most part, yes. Kenneth Branagh's adaptation is a sleek, star-studded spectacle of gorgeous scenery, costumes, and visual effects, but it had trouble gaining traction. The opening sequence is fun and gives us an inside look at just how smart Branagh's Detective Hercule Poirot is. Only problem is that things don't pick up again until we board the train and meet the remainder of the all-star cast.[gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="27402,27401"]
I was very much impressed with Johnny Depp in this movie. It's refreshing to see him not act like Jack Sparrow for a change, and while our time with his character is brief, he brings a lot of charisma to the role. But I have to tip my hat off to Branagh. His incarnation of Poirot is one of the most memorable performances seen on-screen, even against David Suchet's stellar interpretation.
We also get to see new faces like Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., and Josh Gad bring their talents to the screen, albeit for a short amount of time. Then we have veteran actors like Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, and Penélope Cruz deliver fantastic performances that are also cut short.
One of the biggest issues is that, while the movie is full of incredibly talented actors, it doesn't utilize them effectively. Orient Express tries a little too hard to juggle and balance the dozen different characters, and while their performances are nothing short of extraordinary, we find ourselves craving more. Instead, we are given vast shots of the surrounding scenery -- which are absolutely stunning, but they end up being a tad distracting from the plot. It's almost as if the scenic shots are padding its runtime.
The action picks up a bit as the aftermath of the murder causes a panic within the train, but the remainder of the movie is rather dull as Poirot interviews all of the passengers -- things drag and become repetitive. Each passenger has something to hide, but as an audience member, we are only given snippets as to what those secrets are, and it's rather frustrating. I understand wanting to add suspense and mystery, but it quickly becomes tangled. So much so that, even as a fan of the novel, I had a difficult time following along.
Things only get worse once we reach the end, when it's revealed that every passenger had a hand in the murder. Because of the pacing, each character's motive is rushed in order to meet the movie's timeframe. Basically, everyone sought out revenge, in some shape or form.
If I had to rate the film, I'd give it a solid B. I think the movie could have been trimmed down in certain areas (scenic shots) and bulked up in others (character development), but it was still an enjoyable movie-going experience. I highly suggest that you go into this movie with an open mind and enjoy it for what it is: a modern murder mystery.
Have you seen Murder on the Orient Express yet? If so, what did you think? If you haven't, are you planning on seeing it? Let us know in the comments below.
And please check out Double Feature, an OCN YouTube series. We discuss all things entertainment, and have given reviews on Game of Thrones, It, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and Thor: Ragnarok. Subscribe to our channel! And check out our latest episode (below), where we dive into Orient Express even further!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gj1U1-B8V4&feature=youtu.be