Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Synopsis: Wanting nothing more than to take a vacation, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is summoned back to England and secures passage on the Orient Express. He hopes to spend the trip relaxing and reading books. But, when the train becomes temporarily stranded and a passenger is stabbed to death, he reluctantly agrees to find the murderer.

Who's in it? The movie stars Kenneth Branagh, Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Willem DaFoe and Leslie Odom, Jr.

Review: I held off on watching this movie until I had a chance to finally read the Agatha Christie book it was based off of. And, even then, I honestly had some doubts about this movie, especially after being a bit disappointed by the novel.

Despite this, I did hold out some hope the all-star cast would find a way of making this movie a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, while it did ultimately exceed my lowered expectations, it still fell well short of being a memorable film.

To be fair, this wasn't really the fault of the actors. From my experience, Christie's Hercule Poirot novels are much more psychological and don't really offer much in terms of action. While this works on the printed page, watching Poirot (Branagh) spending a good chunk of  the film interviewing people did get to be a little dull at times.

I also wasn't overly impressed with Branagh as Poirot. Part of this was because he was really hard to understand. And, this wasn't just because of Poirot's accent, my wife and I both thought Branagh mumbled an awful lot throughout, making it very difficult to figure out what he was trying to say.

I also thought he fell a little short of bringing the character to life. There were attempts to reveal Poirot's idiosyncrasies, but they seemed kind of forced. As a result of this, I do wonder if the movie would have been better if Depp was cast as Poirot instead of the murder victim.

I will give the filmmakers a little credit though in bringing the Orient Express itself to life. I would definitely want to be a passenger on that luxurious train, especially with all the background scenery. Plus, there were a few throw-ins throughout the movie that did make me wonder if maybe the film would have an ending that differed from the book, something that did keep me interested longer than I was expecting.

Final Opinion: As I said, it was a better movie than expected. But, after seeing it, I am convinced Christie's novels are always going to be considerably better than any film adaptation.

My Grade: C


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