Based off the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express is directed by Kenneth Branagh and stars Branagh himself as “probably the greatest detective in the world”, Hercule Poirot. Along with an all star cast aboard the legendary Orient Express, Poirot finds himself smack dab in the middle of a “who done it?” murder case.
It’s a game of Clue!
I’ve never read any of the previous source material that this film was based off of. Besides my fondness of the Clue board game, this is fairly new to me and I’ve looking forward to seeing how this mystery pans out. However, if movies such as Seven and Zodiac have taught me anything, it’s that I love a good mystery.
There are strong performances across the board from the entire cast with what they’re given to work with. Talent like Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad, and Daisy Ridley to name a few. Unfortunately, the majority of them are relegated to being one-note suspects who are there to boost the real MVP of the film: Kenneth Branagh.
Branagh steals the show with an extremely charismatic and entertaining performance as he unravels this mystery with swift dialogue and expert delivery. Not to mention directing the very film itself at the same time, I tip my hat to Branagh for pulling it off.
That said, the one gripe with Branagh’s performance is that his character is consistently telling us, the audience, how he knows something about someone or how he figured something out. This is also an issue with the movie as a whole, an issue that disregards a fundamental rule of film: “show, don’t tell.”
With Branagh explaining how he’s figuring out the mystery, while intriguing, isn’t giving us, the viewer, the chance to put the pieces together ourselves. Solving a mystery in a movie along with the detective is part of the fun of watching mystery features. As an audience, we want to learn things about the case in real time with our protagonist.
That’s what makes shows like Criminal Minds to Psych so enjoyable, otherwise we’re just watching the detective go through the motions and it’s just not as fun or investing.
Despite a lack of audience participation in solving the mystery, Murder on the Orient Express is still a thoroughly captivating watch. Being enhanced by its lineup of all star talent and an entertaining performance from the director, kept this train ride interesting enough in my book.
I’m going to give Murder on the Orient Express a solid “B” as my final take. Not my first recommendation on what to see in theaters, but I’d give it an enthusiastic vote of confidence to check it out at a matinee price.
As always, thanks so much for reading and make sure to stay posted to Frank’s Takes for more reviews. Until next time, keep it 100.
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