How America loves it’s murder porn. Every channel, every day, hundreds of shows with hundreds of episodes broadcast the airwaves and stream into our computers. What is it with murder? The thrill of the chase? The idea that we get to also play detective and put together the clues? How many more ‘Law and Order’ or ‘CSI: Your Mom’s House’ can we ingest? The fascination with murder and crime has always fascinated us in every form of media. Murder On The Orient Express, would be considered somewhat of a classic.
Much like the other literary classic detective tales such as Sherlock Holmes, Murder on the Orient Express is only one of the many cases of the popular and eccentric detective Hercule Poirot; originally created by Agatha Christie all the way back before World War 2. Also much like the detective stories of Sherlock Holmes being given a modern reboot (several actually), the cases of Hercule Poirot are also ripe for more television and film adaptations. Agatha’s work seems inspired by the classics of Arthur Conan Doyle by way that her detective also has quirks and idiosyncrasies that put him at odds socially with others. Significantly older than Holmes, and much more socially adapt, Hercule Poirot is also a consulting detective albeit much more conventional but almost as equally neurotic.
Although it is a reboot, it is interesting as the director Kenneth Branagh takes on the role of the famous detective himself. Much like Sherlock Holmes, Christie’s detective has been played by numerous actors all leaving their own stamp and take on the character. Branagh, equally famous for his acting as well as directing, brings a certain posh elegance to the character. Reboot aside, Murder On The Orient Express has a certain coziness and romanticism. Similarly to the Quentin Tarantino film, The Hateful Eight, the time period and setting gives a film that would be normally a straightforward murder mystery that extra layer of intrigue. As straightforward and predictable as it was, it was still entertaining.
The ensemble cast of Johnny Depp, Star Wars alumni Daisy Ridley, Dame Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer and several others all bring award-winning talent to this film. As enjoyable as it is to see actors such as Willem Dafoe ham it up, is a reboot of this film really necessary? A film adaptation of the same name came out in 1974, directed by classical movie director Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men), it starred Ingrid Bergman who went on to win an Academy Award for her performance in the original. This 2017 is passable at best, however, it is entertaining and does serve as a good launching point if more films were to be made based on the cases of Hercule Poirot.
A film like this may not make it’s money back. Although Branagh went out of his way to shoot Murder On the Orient Express on 65mm film, it seems wasted. Dunkirk, which was also shot on 65mm film, and also starred Branagh, was an epic war movie with very large set pieces and battles.This film is not grandiose enough to justify using such a large camera format. Would I like to see more films like this? Yes - I love detective stories, much like many Americans. But for the low impact storytelling and almost stage-play like pacing, Murder On The Orient Express may be more suited for at home viewing as it watched such as a Masterpiece Theater such as ‘Downton Abbey’ but just on the big screen. I’d recommend waiting for this one to go to streaming.