Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Also saw the new version of the Agatha Christie movie Murder on the Orient Express. Based on the classic whodunnit novel (and a few previous movies), it’s a well-cast, very good looking movie that I’m not sure is accurate to the books or previous films. I’m suspicious but I never read the book but I did see the 1974 version so long ago I can’t remember a thing about it.
Kenneth Branaugh (and, yes, his mustache) plays Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s world’s greatest detective. It’s 1934 and the detective and the usual assortment of suspects are travelling by the titular train when someone is murdered. Can Poirot figure out whodunit? Of course he can, but the real question is, can you?
The film has a big cast though not as all-start as the 1974 version. Johnny Depp (not playing wacky), Daisy Ridley, Michell Pfeiffer, Judy Dench, Penelope Cruz, Josh Gad, Willem Dafoe, and a number of other folks play the suspects (and the murder victim) and they all do a good job though not all of them really have much screen time. I didn’t feel like it was a big problem since they all exist only to be interviewed by Mr. Mustache… but perhaps their characters are given short shrift compared to the book. All I know is that it worked fairly well and certainly has a different feel as far as modern movies go. It is about interviews and deductions (with a few minor action scenes) and that is unique these days.
It does have the typical “get all the suspects together and unravel the mystery” sequences near the end which does feel hackneyed. But that’s exactly required for this type of movie and it would be missed if it weren’t there. It was a little slow and it had this “wow, that’s a lot of coincidences” feel until the movie explains itself.
I can’t say if whodunit is whodunit in the book but it doesn’t feel like it is. Also, there’s a sadness, melancholy, and introspection that really doesn’t feel like it came from 1934 mystery novel. But I was curious enough to run out and buy the book to find out for myself so points to them.
I liked the movie. I honestly wouldn’t have liked it as much without the somber and depressing mood at the end of the film. It’s hard to make that seem like a recommendation but it is… I suspect the movie will do better if it were more fun but it’s not the style of a film.
Score: 85

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