Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Running Time: 1 to 2 hours maybe a half hour more.
Starring: A lot of actors your mom will ask “Where have I seen him/her in?” right as you’re watching the movie.
Who is the killer? Well, it’s…oh you were trying to trick me. I’m not telling. You’ll just have to Google it or read a book (Google “Reading a book” to find out what that is) or watching the original from the 70s for a lot more sideburns.
The Good News: You get an entire week before yet another superhero movie comes out.
The Bad News: Daddy’s Home 2 opens during said week.
The Okay News: The passable remake to Murder on The Orient Express opens as well, giving you something to watch as you wait for The Disaster Artist or The Shape of Water.
After watching The Hateful Eight for the 9th time just to satisfy your handlebar moustache fetish, along comes Kenneth Branagh with a ‘stache that’s better written than a good portion of the characters in this decidedly average but watchable remake of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. It’s a movie that should be better than it is, considering the source material, the award-magnet cast, and funny forced accents. But I can’t complain too much, since all we have to look forward to next week is Justice League.
To be honest, nobody is really “looking forward” to Justice League.
As might guess, the movie revolves around a murder…on…a train called the…orient express. You want more? Okay.
Kenneth Branagh and his moustache play “The World’s greatest Detective” Hercule Poirot. He’s Belgian, he’s badass, and he really needs a vacation after solving yet another case in the opening scene which establishes him as a man for whom no detail is too small. Hercule is fussy and anal but we put up with him because he solves murders and stuff.
Now he’s off on vacation and there’s nothing that could possibly go wrong, except that there is no room on the train for him and he’s forced to be “bunkies” with a guy he doesn’t know and all he wants to do is read his Dickens and not interact with a bunch of Oscar winners and Academy Award nominees.
Unfortunately, Poirot’s reputation precedes him as a shady “art dealer” named Edward Ratched (Johnny Depp) forces/seats himself at Poirot’s table. Ratched proposes to pay Poirot to watch his back as he’s been getting death threats. Probably because Ratched has a movie-gangster accent as looks shady AF.
Poirot declines and goes back to his room to read. He just wants a nice quiet vacation to himself, and he’s way too old for this murderin’ stuff, and he’s about to retire in 7 days until…
…The train derails and they’re stuck in snow for days. Good thing nothing else will happen.
Until Ratched is found dead in his cabin. Stabbed like a pin cushion.
But who could possibly want him dead? Turns out there’s a trainload of people that are both suspect and suspects, like—
- Caroline (Michelle Pfeiffer) – she’s a rich widow who enjoys the company of men. Maybe she can explain the last half-hour of Mother. I totally think she did it, unless I’m wrong.
- Mary (Daisy Ridley)- she’s a Governess or a cartographer, depending on who you ask. Maybe she can give us Last Jedi spoilers, unless she’s busy killing people.
- Pilar (Penelope Cruz)- She’s a missionary which makes her my prime suspect for the killer.
- Gerhard (Willem Dafoe)– I think he’s a Nazi.
- Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jr.)- He’s a black doctor and I’m just not going to cast suspicion on him just because he’s black. Unless that’s exactly what he wants me to think.
- Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench)- she seems a little too old to just be randomly stabbin’ a people just for fun, unless she’s a murderous black doctor in disguise.
Because the train is stuck in the snow and it’ll be a couple of days before it’ll be de-derailed, it looks like Detective Poirot has some time to kill to figure out who took the time to kill Ratched, and why. Because…everyone is a suspect!!!
Except the black guy. Well, maybe just a little.
What Works With Murder on the Orient Express 2017
- Michelle Pfeiffer chewing scenery. She enlivens every scene she’s scene simply by making the viewer sit up and pay attention. If you actually saw Mother, Pfeiffer’s pretty much playing the same character with twice the screen time. The movie is better off for it.
- The “Dessert” scene. By far the best scene in the movie and, in retrospect, the only scene with any palpable and lasting tension.
- The Train- if you’re going to spend 90% of a 2-hour movie on a train, then at least have it look pretty and make it something you’d want to ride in even though there’s a possibility you might be sharing a cabin with a murderer.
- Not being given much of a character to work with, Daisy Ridley displays enough talent and screen presence to let you know she’ll have a career long after the Star Wars movies are finished.
What Doesn't Work With Murder on the Orient Express 2017
- The film flattens and sometimes flatlines after Johnny Depp’s character exits as Ratched was the only player with any real danger and tension associated with him. Without him to play off of, the other characters come off as vanilla without the spice.
- The movie’s few (clumsy) attempts at action only underline the fact that 80% of the movie is just a bunch of conversations on a train. That can sometimes be repetitive unless you have no idea who the killer(s) is/are.
- Oscar Winners Judi Dench and Penelope Cruz are wasted in what seem to be extended cameos. You get the feeling that because of time, a good portion of their scenes were cut.
Lower, but don’t completely derail your expectations for Murder’17. It’s basic, but rarely boring.
Spoiler- It was Skeet Ulrich that was the killer, along with Matthew Lillard.