Murder on the Orient Express: Review

Written by: Stef Atega

Film | Dec 6, 2017

20th Century Fox Agatha Christie Murder on the Orient Express

As much as I appreciate good detective stories, I can't help but wonder if Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express would be better told through a mini-series. Let me explain why.

On a supposedly uneventful journey through Europe, renowned detective Hercule Periot (Kenneth Branagh) finds himself embroiled in a murder mystery onboard the Orient Express train. One fateful night, passenger Samuel Ratchett (Johnny Depp) is stabbed multiple times in his cabin. After a thorough inspection of the room, the detective finds clues that may lead to Ratchett's killer.

Photo Credit: Official Murder on the Orient Express Facebook Page

Naturally, every passenger on the train becomes a suspect, and so most of the film is spent with detective Periot interrogating each of them. All the 13 suspects are unique and the movie does its best expounding on their different backgrounds. To add weight, these suspects are played by an impressive cast: Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, and more. But with its limited time, the movie can only do so much.

You see, the source material is not a typical whodunit. As is usually the trick with engaging detective plots, there are always layers which are peeled away as the audience progresses further into the narrative. In that regard, these passengers are definitely not who they seem to be. But since there are too many of them, the movie did its best to capture the gist of each person's story. This is a bit disappointing, since it means that the film's roster of big names aren't effectively utilized. Apart from the protagonist, none of the other performances stood out. Kenneth Branagh outshone everyone throughout the film, thanks to his enthusiastic acting and that bizarre moustache.

Let's go back to my earlier point. Imagine if Murder on the Orient Express was a mini-series instead, and each episode devoted to each suspect. If trusted in the right hands, that setup would turn out perfectly.

Photo Credit: Official Murder on the Orient Express Facebook Page

Thankfully, the source material is compelling enough. While the film glossed over half the characters, it was still entertaining to watch. As someone who isn't familiar with the book, I enjoyed guessing as to who the true killer was. Viewers will be satisfied with the film's ultimate reveal, which is shocking and endearing at the same time.

If only it had time to slow burn, this would have been a poignant tale. Overall, Murder on the Orient Express makes for decent viewing.

About the author: Stef Atega

GameGulp's current overlord. Stef is obsessed with cats and anything horror. She also likes shounen anime and Japanese food but refuses to be called a "weeaboo". She believes in the power of indie games.

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