Reel Reviews: Murder on the Orient Express

Reel Reviews / Josh Simpkins

Murder! It would seem that we, human beings as a society, are obsessed with murder. Go on Primetime television or to your Netflix account, and you will find half a dozen or more programs on the subject. For example: Making a Murderer, How to Get Away with Murder, Murder in the First, The Perfect Murder, Diagnosis Murder, Murder She Wrote—get the picture? It’s not just television either, the film industry has picked up on our penchant for homicide. Over the decades Hollywood has given us Murder on the Orient Express, Dial M for Murder, A Perfect Murder, Murder at 1600, Murder by Numbers, The Toolbox Murders, et cetera ad nauseum. Well, recently the Hollywood Reboot Machine decided to churn out a remake of the 1974 film, based on Agatha Christie’s famous novel Murder on the Orient Express—starring Kenneth Branagh (Dunkirk), Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), Judi Dench (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), Tom Bateman (B&B), and Leslie Odom Jr. (Red Tails). I have say, I must admit, this retool isn’t terrible.

Murder on the Orient Express follows Hercule Poirot (Branagh), perhaps the World’s greatest detective, as he embarks on the famous train for some much-needed R&R. Stuck in the small confines of a train with a group of interesting individuals from bona fide royalty—Princess Dragomiroff (Dench)—to talented young physician Dr. Arbuthnot (Odom Jr.), Poirot finds himself encumbered by his fellow passengers when all he wants is a leisurely train ride. When the murder of sleazy business/conman Edward Ratchett (Depp) transpires, railroad liaison Bouc (Bateman) requests that Poirot solve the case before reaching their destination. Poirot is reluctant, but Justice must be served. However, after launching his investigation Poirot quickly realizes that this case is unlike any other he has undertaken in the past and may very well change his perceptions in the future.

I was a bit skeptical about this film going in, but I must say: I was pleasantly surprised! The cast is star-studded and amazing. Now, this movie is not perfect. Sometimes Branagh overdoes it a bit. However, whoever likes this genre should be far from bored, but should find themselves captured by the fantastic atmosphere and wit Branagh has been able to pepper throughout the story—Branagh serves double duty as star and director. His Poirot was highly convincing and the veteran thespians like Judy Dench, Willem Defoe and Johnny Depp do their jobs and do them well, but in my opinion, the most interesting performances come from the youngsters. Namely Josh Gad and Daisy Ridley. These two are quickly becoming masters of their craft. If you find you have the time, go give Murder on the Orient Express a chance, I don’t believe you will leave disappointed. Now, go on out and have some fun at the movies.