Though I have not read the book (yet), I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Murder on the Orient Express movie. Though most modern mysteries don’t interest me, I usually like older ones. With the plus of star-studded cast and the direction of Kenneth Branagh, who tends to be good with adaptations of old books, my excitement for this movie was high.
In the end I wouldn’t say this movie was amazing, but I did enjoy it. For once, I managed not to spoil myself on the resolution of this decades-old mystery. Since I didn’t, the ending was a surprise. Even seconds before Poirot made his deduction, I was unsure of where it was going. Mostly I thought about how all the character revelations were such a bizarre coincidence. Well…let’s just say I learned if a mystery has a “coincidence,” it probably isn’t a coincidence after all.
The movie has a lot of talking, sitting and spontaneous fact discoveries, so I imagine it would be more interesting to read than it was to watch. Plus, when you come out to a movie like this, half the interest is probably that 90% of the cast is immediately recognizable and that footage of a train traveling across a snow-covered mountain is breathtaking. Despite the lack of action, I did find joy in putting together little details about the different characters before Poirot did. In a movie era focused on action blockbusters/franchises, Murder on the Orient Express was a welcome change of pace. I love the action-focused norm, but wish for something different upon occasion.
If there is anything I learned about Branagh from watching his Hamlet adaptation, as well as the first Thor movie, it’s that he loves including sweeping footage of scenery in his movies. Murder on the Orient Express continues that trend, despite the majority of the plot occurring within one train. I came to this movie for the fun of an old-timey mystery but stayed because everything in the movie is gorgeous.
Though the movie moved at a slow pace, all concerns and questions but one disappeared as I left the theater. Where were the people from the other train cars when everyone exited the train for the grand finale? 20th Century Fox couldn’t hire a few extras? Or did I just miss seeing them?
If you enjoy character-focused movies with minimal action and lots of discussion, or if you love beautiful backdrops and historical costumes, Murder on the Orient Express is something you should watch soon. If not, either the story isn’t for you, or you should read the book instead, available at CPL in multiple formats.