Positively Masterful | Review of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (2017 Film)

By Cynthia Ayala

Murder on the Orient Express starring Kenneth Branagh, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Olivia Colman, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer & Daisy Ridley 20th Century Fox Image Credit: Goodreads

“When a murder occurs on the train he’s traveling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case.” —IMDB

I have read plenty of reviews about this movie criticizing the fact that the film is too similar to the 1974 version of the film. I think that most of those critics are missing the point though. This is not a remake, it is an adaptation of a critically acclaimed book by the queen of mystery writing, and as any reader will tell you, an honest adaptation is what will win people over. It is not a remake; I cannot stress that enough and critics need to realize that and put two and two together, especially when you have Kenneth Branagh, a Shakespearean actor, at the helm. There is no way this film is not going to be as close to the novel as possible, but that does not mean there can’t still be suspense or tension to keep the audience captivated.

Murder on the Orient Express is a delightful film that keeps up the suspense and the intrigue as it builds the characters and their relationships with one another. The cast of characters built up by remarkable actors. Moreover, the story was so well structured. It had the right amount of comedy at just the right moments as well as the perfect storytelling and character creation. The story takes a moment to focus on every character and their dynamics with one another. It is richly conceived and thought of in the way that it tells the story. I loved that about the film now it weaves humor in with seriousness, into the mystery. Branagh is remarkable as the great detective who solves crime after crime by being able to see the imperfection in the world, seeking the balance to right the wrong. He is such a great character, with connections to Sherlock Holmes (of whom he is most certainly based off) and Monk (which I am currently binge watching…again). There is a quirkiness to the character, something g that makes him stand out and inspire people to follow him. However, for the role, there is also a growth to the character, a reason this film is so well done. The audience sees the struggle for him to impart imbalance in the world to right wrongs, making him a fascinating character. Moreover, the way that Branagh brought the character to life was mesmerizing. He is such brilliant actor and such a serious one too and yet given the right script he can create the right amount of humor the make a film perfectly balanced.

As for the rest of the cast, they all knew how to bring their characters to life. Even better is the fact that the cast all had chemistry with one another to make the film flow flawlessly. It was a spectacular cast.

Film direction is also vital in making the film keep the interest of the audience, especially when you figure much of the audience is familiar with the plot and knows how it ends. So it is essential in the direction to find clever ways to create misdirection. Moreover, the film achieved that with great finesse. It was a fantastic film and adaptation. Personally, I look forward to the sequel. (★★★☆ | A)

—Film Credits—

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Screenplay by Michael Green

Based on Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Olivia Colman, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer & Daisy Ridley

Rating | Length | Genre: PG-13 | 1h 54min | CrimeDramaMystery

Distributed by 20th Century Fox

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