A film that promises to deliver suspense, mystery and murder is something that many of us will always be ready to see. Of course, the main thing that’s required here is that all of what we get is worth watching. We all know this can be difficult to achieve in some cases, and this latest edition of Murder on the Orient Express shows us that.
Based on the classic novel from Agatha Christie of the same name, this film follows Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) as he investigates a murder aboard an extravagant train traveling through Europe. In his sights, are a group of twelve seemingly normal people who are each turned into suspects by these events. Using his keen eye, the world-famous detective has to get through his investigation and uncover who is behind this violent act of crime quickly as it’s only a matter of time before the murderer strikes again or disappears forever.
Seeing as Murder on the Orient Express is about a murder mystery that needs to be solved through a thorough investigation, one should expect to watch a movie that has a bit of a slow burn to it. As the audience observes what’s going on, it’s important that some type of tension is being built as everything unfolds. It’s also important that we get to know each of the players in this murderous game of deception as everything moves along.
A critical element that would prove to be imperative to the success of this or any film that requires these things to take place would be the energy and pace. It’s with these factors that Orient Express stumbles to some degree. I understand that it’s old school in that sense, but it’s too slow and lacks any semblance of consistent energy. At some point, there comes a time during the film where you’re hoping for things to move faster. Because of what it is, you don’t want it to move too quickly but it plods along too much at some points.
In cases where things like this happen, a definitive degree of energy becomes necessary. Including more energy through the characters or through creating more story based suspense allows us to ignore the fact that this isn’t the kind of quick style that many would prefer. With these being issues, the lack of speed becomes more obvious and could possibly reduce the film’s overall value in terms of entertainment. The only people who may not share this opinion with me are the people who have read the book already since the characters and story are in their minds from the start.
A simple fix would be the characters being the key to everything we see in a film. In order to do that, the people we meet throughout would have needed to be a little more cunning, suspicious and on edge when they were put in precarious positions. Over the course of the investigation, this rarely seems to be the case. The people being questioned by the man who is “probably the world’s greatest detective” are usually calm, level-headed or even confident. Simply doing the opposite of that more often makes the movie better since we’re getting suspense that would be perfectly reasonable under the circumstances.
Although the complaints I have are legitimate, Murder on the Orient Express never becomes a movie that I found myself hating or even disliking. My only feeling toward it afterward is that it’s held back by things that should have been figured out from the very beginning. The mystery and the types of characters that go along with this story and its ending are all things that are easy to appreciate. So adding to those positives by being able to properly provide the right amount of intensity through the pace and character behavior could have gone a long way in making this truly thrilling and fun.
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Leslie Odom Jr.
Film Length: 115 minutes
Release Date: November 10, 2017
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
- Score - 5.5/105.5/10