BY RILEY FANNING
“Murder on the Orient Express” is a cinematic feast for the eyes, and has a plot that will keep you wondering what is around each bend.
The film is directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also plays the lead role. The plot is based on the original novel by Agatha Christie, and is a remake of the 1974 film of the same name.
The Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is a peculiar man, obsessed with perfection and
balance in life.
He has everything a good protagonist needs—wit, charm and a killer mustache. He swiftly carries the film forward through an array of lies and mystery.
Poirot boards the Orient Express, a lavish train traveling through Europe and when a man on the train is murdered, Poirot must put his abilities to the test in an effort to figure out who is the killer amongst them is.
The visual experience is outstanding. Every single shot is streamlined, crisp and gorgeous and the cinematography is noticeably artistic, with an assortment of interesting angles.
A stand out scene is the moment in which the dead body is first discovered which is shot entirely in a bird’s eye point of view.
There are also several great tracking shots of characters walking through the train, with the camera following them while outside, looking through the glass.
This shot gives the viewer a real understanding of the tight space within the train, while also allowing the audience to be in the position of an onlooker in the train station.
A visual theme of duality is distinctively present throughout the film, with multiple scenes containing the character’s reflections.
There are also several homages to filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, most notably the murder scene itself.
The stabbing sequence is out of frame; a classic Hitchcock move that allows the audience to imagine what happened instead of seeing the violence directly.
In addition to the beautiful cinematography, the acting and characterization are superb. The star studded cast includes the likes of Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench and more.
Every character feels distinctive, and they add their own dynamic to the storyline.
The standout performance is by far Branagh, as the character of Detective Poirot is what made this film special. In spite of this, every single actor has a shining moment and the casting was perfect.
The film could have benefited from adding a touch more backstory to the characters.
A few more intimate scenes with the people on the train separate from Poirot could have added more depth, and an understanding for each individual.
There also could have been improvement in the realm of believability.
The problems Poirot faces never feel totally authentic, and are somewhat expected. The film does not create any sort of anxiety for the viewer, which leaves some scenes feeling flat.
However, the dialogue was smartly written. There are multiple hints embedded throughout the film that make sense in the denouement, without spoiling anything along the way.
The discovery of the truth in the end is profoundly satisfying. The film concludes without plot holes, and every loose end is tied up.
While “Murder on the Orient Express” is not perfect, it is an extremely well made and entertaining movie.
In a sea of underwhelming or flat out terrible films made recently, this one holds clout. Most films are far from perfect, but “Murder on the Orient Express” is worth watching.
The Flyer gives “Murder on the Orient Express” 7/10.