Murder on the Orient Express (2017 Film) infuses Christie’s beloved story with modern glitz and visuals. In the midst of doing so, it loses much of the classic whodunnit taste.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017 Film) Synopsis
Renowned Belgian detective Hercules Poirot travels on the Orient Express to head to London for a case. During the journey, he is approached by shady antiques dealer Samuel Ratchett for protection, which Poirot flatly declines out of distaste for the man. The next morning, Ratchett is found brutally murdered in his cabin. As Poirot investigates, he discovers everyone on the Orient Express has something to hide. What exactly is happening onboard the glamourous train? And is the deceased who he claims he is?
Before all else, two things.
I used to be a devoted Agatha Christie reader, 30 years ago. Throughout Secondary 1, I read nothing but her whodunnits.
During that phase, I also actively avoided the Poirot stories. I … just couldn’t stand the Belgian detective. I found him so arrogant. So … insufferably fastidious.
Okay, back to the review. Murder on the Orient Express (2017 Film) is undoubtedly stylish. A glitzy, modern take on one of Agatha’s most astonishing stories, full of sweeping panoramas and LoTR-ish breathtaking backdrops.
Branagh himself does a splendid job portraying Mr. Little Grey Cells. The range of emotions he displays is impressive. He also effortlessly injects humanity into what could otherwise come across as a flat, omniscient character.
Yet, that’s about it. Beyond Poirot and the snowy mountains, this movie is thin. There just isn’t that wicked (classic) whodunnit flavour because so much time is spent on Poirot.
Suspects are only given obligatory screen time. Correspondingly, you can’t get any good grasp of them. It could be really confusing to those new to the genre. (So many names!)
There’s the problem of there being so little tension in the movie too. Agatha was no horror writer but she did chill. She’s certainly also not the writer to read when you are alone in a London hostel with all sorts of strange, strange strangers. I seriously can’t say the same for this adaptation.
In short, the movie could have been better with a little less focus on Poirot and more on the rest. Including the violence, the blood, etc.
The psychoanalytical take on Poirot was refreshing. It even succeeded in lessening my 30-year-old dislike of the detective. But a Poirot story is never just about him, right?
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