“Murder on the Orient Express” is directed by Kenneth Branagh and stars Branagh, as well as Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, and Penélope Cruz. The film is based on the novel by Agatha Christie, as well as the 1974 film of the same name and is about a train ride that turns into a full-blown investigation after one passenger is suspiciously is killed, leaving the great detective of Hercule to figure out who committed the murder.
This is a movie that I have been excited for a while, as its trailer was very unique, and I loved how the camera traveled from passenger to passenger, so I was hoping that Branagh would bring some directorial flair and be able to bring a good amount of mystery and intrigue into this classic story.
Kenneth Branagh successfully is able to bring the energy and the intrigue, at least on the acting side of things. I love his performance as Hercule, as Branagh is incredibly believable and equally lively as the detective running the show, and the film often needs his jolt of energy to remain interesting, and Branagh delivers on that nearly every time.
The large cast working with Branagh all have solid performances, but only a few really stood out for me in any way. I enjoyed Johnny Depp’s angry, cold-hearted role as Mr. Ratchett, as well as Josh Gad’s performance as Ratchett’s assistant, Mr. McQueen, mostly because Gad makes his interrogations from Hercule much more interesting than any other character on the train. Aside from those two, I liked moments from other characters, and I wish Willem Dafoe was more prevalent in the film than he is, but there wasn’t anyone who I thought was a negative, but they weren’t as great as I was hoping for.
Once the movie gets going with the actual murder and the interviews between Hercule and the passengers, it really begins to find some momentum. Watching Branagh and his character work through the case is very interesting, and it allows for some great reveals, and this portion of the film in the second act is easily the most enjoyable time in the entire film.
Unfortunately, “Murder on the Orient Express” doesn’t find its footing fast enough, and it doesn’t keep its footing long enough, to be all that interesting. The opening act goes on obscenely too long, with seemingly an hour going by before the “murder” that the title promises ever even happens. The conclusion of the movie is okay, I suppose, but it feels like it runs long and isn’t the ending that I was really hoping for.
Aside from the iffy pacing and the overly long introduction, I found the entire mystery to be significantly less interesting than it should have been. I can’t exactly pinpoint why, especially because Branagh really gives it his all, but it may have to do with just how long it takes for the movie to get going, and all without ever really developing its’ characters all that well.
I already touched on this, but the ending is severely underwhelming. I won’t spoil it, especially if you haven’t seen the original, but I was hoping that this remake would shake it up and go for a nice change on an already classic ending. Instead, I found the ending to be way overly explained, and it did not live up to anything that I was hoping from it.
“Murder on the Orient Express” has a great lead performance and a decent middle section, but is poorly paced, lacks a good conclusion, and is, for the most part, pretty boring. I didn’t hate this movie, but I was disappointed at how underwhelming it felt while watching, and no matter how good Branagh’s performance is, his direction is lacking, and it left me feeling rather disappointed with the end result.
What did you think of “Murder on the Orient Express”? Comment below with your thoughts.