Directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh as the inimical detective, Hercule Poirot, Murder on the Orient Express is adapted from one of murder mystery maven Agatha Christie’s best known books.
1—Well Paced and Characterized
Murder on the Orient Express has a lot to set up in little time, lots of clues and characters to introduce, but neither pacing nor characterization feels cheated. Everything flows naturally, including the gradual shift in tone from the lighthearted beginning to the emotional struggles of the climax.
The casting is perfect, from well-known names like Judy Dench or Michelle Pfeiffer, as well as the lesser known or unknown names. But my absolute favorite is Kenneth Branagh’s take on Poirot. It has just the right kind of sense of humor for the fussy detective.
2—Light and Dark
Murder on the Orient Express takes place in 1934 and the sets are beautiful period pieces. I’m glad they didn’t try to update the setting. The movie starts with Poirot concluding a case in Jerusalem, a sunny setting for the lighter part of the movie. Things grow literally darker as the movie does, with a move onto the titular Orient Express train and deep into the snow-covered mountains.
3—Forgetting and Remembering the Mystery
I had forgotten whodunnit, so it was fun to go along with Poirot in discovering that for most of the movie. I did remember the solution about two-thirds of the way through but it was still fun to watch Poirot work it out. Even if I’d remembered from the beginning though, it still would’ve been a good film.
As I said in the title, this is a well-done version of a classic mystery. For those who know it, it’ll be fun to see old friends done well. And for those who don’t, it’ll be a good first time. I recommend Murder on the Orient Express and hope they adapt another of Christie’s books.