‘Murder on the Orient Express’ is a Moribund Mystery

Murder on the Orient Express

It was only a matter of time before Agatha Christie’s mustachioed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot made his way back to the screen in one form or another. That time and has come and it’s Kenneth Branagh both behind the camera and in front it of it, donning a massive mustache in his remake of Murder on the Orient Express. In front of the camera, Branagh is game to bring Poirot to life with plenty of gusto and charm. It’s behind the camera that Branagh struggles. Murder on the Orient Express starts with plenty of promise before the eponymous murder takes place and then the film meanders with little suspense for anyone slightly familiar with the Christie’s twist at the end, one of the most famous twists of all time.

On board the famed Orient Express in the dead of winter, a number of passengers are ready to undergo the lengthy continental trip. Hercule Poirot (Branagh) is a late addition to the train thanks to his connections with the train’s manager Bouc (Tom Bateman). Among the passengers is Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp), a boorish American with scared visage who claims to deal in antiques. He drinks to excess and is paranoid following a series of threatening notes left in his cabin. Ratchett implores Poirot to help him but the Belgian detective refuses. In the dead of night, the train is derailed in the midst of a snowstorm, where it’s discovered that Edward Ratchett has been stabbed 12 times in his sleep. But the World’s Greatest Detective is on the train and Hercule Poirot will get to the bottom of this heinous crime where each and every passenger is a suspect.

There’s a wide array of passengers from all walks of life, featuring Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Olivia Coleman, Penélope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leslie Odom Jr., Sergei Polunin, Lucy Boynton, and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. You’d be forgiven if you have trouble remembering the names and occupations of each character because the film can only dedicate so much time to each of these suspected killers. As each of these characters are grilled by an aggressive Poirot, the cracks emerge in their stories as it seems that each person on the train is hiding some kind of secret from their past that links them to the recently deceased.

Murder on the Orient Express starts out with plenty of promise, focusing on a small case that is quickly solved by Hercule Poirot’s impeccable skills of detections. There’s a wit and energy to these early scenes that allow Branagh to bring all sorts of charm and panache to the Belgian detective. Then the murder occurs. It’s an incredibly odd situation where a movie becomes less and less interesting following the murder of a character. In a flash, the humor that worked so well in the first 30 minutes vanishes. Then Murder on the Orient Express more or less becomes a procedural drama of interrogation emphasized by flashback. Perhaps the movie will work for those completely unaware of the twist, but since I had seen Sidney Lumet’s 1974 version and knew the identity of the culprit meant there was simply no suspense to be found, making the decision to completely abandon the moments of levity more deadly than the murder that incites the mystery.

Credit where it’s due, Branagh and cinematographer Haris Zambarkloukos have crafted an impressive looking film. The production design is immaculate and often leaves the film with a gorgeous sheen of artistry. Much in the same way, Branagh really shines as Hercule Poirot. His mustache is a beast unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Branagh relishes in the Beligan accent and brings some real personality to the legendary sleuth. But there’s just no tension in the film, so the visceral beauty and Branagh’s performance ring hollow. Despite my issues with Murder on the Orient Express, I’d still be happy to see Branagh reprise the role as Hercule Poirot in a story that isn’t dependent on an incredibly famous twist.

Murder on the Orient Express starts great and ends well, but it’s that middle stretch where the film struggles mightily. The mystery as it unfolds just isn’t compelling despite the best efforts of its impressive ensemble cast. Branagh is much better in the leading role than his as a director in this story, and he just can’t craft a mystery that’s worth investing. In a lot of regards, Murder on the Orient Express is as mechanical as the train, chugging along before halting to a stop in the snow. We all knew there’d be a murder. We just didn’t expect that it’d kill all the movie.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Darkest Hour
Joe Wright’s ‘Darkest Hour’ Brings Forth Gary Oldman’s Finest Hours

In 1940, as Hitler’s Nazi forces spread their aggressive campaign of...

The Good Time Girls
Brutal Female Fronted Western Revenge Short ‘The Good Time Girls’ Optioned as a Feature

The Western genre has for too long been a sausage-fest, movies...

Martin McDonagh
Martin McDonagh Discusses the Fire Behind ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’

These days, it’s easy to be angry. Look around you and...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Super Beat Sports Review
Drop the Beat, Don’t Drop the Ball – Super Beat Sports Review [Switch]

Harmonix delivers another game that’s as fun and catchy as that song...

Nioh: Complete Edition Review
Test Your Metal – Nioh: Complete Edition Review [PC]

Definitive proof that there is fun in challenge and frustration –...

Review – Bad Apple Wars (PSV)

Rinka is your typical high school girl. She goes through life,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Tick Tock, Tick Tock, the ‘Doomsday Clock’ is about to Strike!

Title: Doomsday Clock #1 Writer: Geoff Johns Artist: Gary Frank Colorist:...

viz media
Viz Media Digital Manga Update for November

TLDR Viz Media announced its digital manga update for November will...

viz media
New Anime and Manga for the Holidays from Viz Media

Viz Media releases new anime and manga for the upcoming holidays....

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Are you Ready for WWE Survivor Series? Check Out Loot Crate First!

Updated from Thursday’s Original Post: One of the original “Big 4”...

Are You Worthy to Wield Thor’s Hammer (Tool Set)?

ThinkGeek’s 44 piece Thor’s hammer tool set is the perfect gift...

Legendary Dragon Decks Review
Dragons are the Coolest – Yu-Gi-Oh! Legendary Dragon Decks Review

Dragons are ingrained into every season of Yu-Gi-Oh, here’s your chance...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
AXS TV Closes NJPW’s ‘G1 Climax 27’ With Four Episodes From The Final Weekend Beginning Friday Oct. 13

Los Angeles, CA (Oct. 11, 2017) – “Rainmakers” and “High Fly...

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Rocky Romero has created an auction to raise money for UNIDOS por Puerto Rico Disaster Relief

I’m The costume was worn by Rocky during the final Roppongi...

Douglas Lima Defends his Bellator Welterweight Title Against Rory MacDonald at the Forum on 1/20

LOS ANGELES – One year removed from its previous event at...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Adult Continuity Issue #10 – Justice League XXX


Javier Fernandez
Future Comic Rock Stars – Javier Fernandez

It’s been an incredibly long time since I’ve written this column...

Comics on the Can – Double Dragon

Comics on the can Double Dragon Writer – Dwayne McDuffie Pencils...

Event News Event Reviews
go little tokyo
Five Reasons to Visit LA’s Little Tokyo For the Holidays

Go Little Tokyo is pleased to host Go Little Tokyo for the...

BlizzCon 2017
Another Cool Year at BlizzCon – BlizzCon 2017 Roundup

BlizzCon 2017 was packed full of Blizzard news that chilled fans...

LA Comic Con 2017
Stan Lee and Dwayne Johnson Rock the Main Stage at LA Comic Con 2017

LA Comic Con (formerly Comikaze) brings the star power with its...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

Long Beach Punk Band ‘Spider’ Rocks ‘It’s Not Dead’ Festival

Spider is a heavy hitting punk band out of Long Beach,...

Lahna Turner’s ‘Limeade’ is a Hilariously Haunting Comedy Album

Many people are roll their eyes at the idea of musical...