Director: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench
Reviewed By: Adam
Rating: 4 / 5 bottles of champagne.
‘Whodunnits’ are a genre of film that has been pretty buried in the mess of alien chaos and comic adaptations that have been getting funded over the last few years. I enjoyed seeing this genre of film get a revival. Not to mention that a good mystery thriller can completely pull you into the narrative.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a book adaptation… and a remake, I still don’t entirely forgive the laziness of Hollywood in this regard but it was still a welcome change.
Compared to other train-based murder mysteries I’ve looked at this is a different style of storytelling. We have structure and a linear narrative that puts us in the shoes of the detective and lets us learn info as a detective would; piece by piece, bit by bit, and against the will of a suspected murderer trying to hide something. Rather than being darted back and forth in a loop and under the voice of an unreliable narrator, which has become the standard in the last few large murder mysteries like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, Murder on the Orient Express is more straightforward in it’s storytelling.
After Mr. Holmes, Poirot is maybe one of the most pivotal detectives of modern fiction. Set up to be eccentric, brilliant and with a ballin’ mustache. So, does Branagh pull it off?…Absolutely. He is nearly unrecognisable in it, hilarious, intense and my god the mustache fucked me right up. It’s incredible, it’s a double mustache. I nearly made a wish when I saw it spread 12 feet across the screen. I think Agatha Christie would be proud.
All credit to them for making the train, which is the main set, seem absolutely huge and sprawling. There’s fantastic use of space to make tense scenes feel claustrophobic and times when there’s no control of the investigation to make the train seem enormous and ominous. It absolutely becomes a character itself in the story and they bring that to life on the screen perfectly.
I will say I feel it was slightly rushed with the character intros, there’s a very unequal screen time given to some of the suspects that don’t suit the reveal well at all. So much so I actually thought towards the end that it was a new character being introduced. Other than that, they used the talent well. Also, it’s fantastic to see *SPOILER* Johnny Depp getting stabbed because I’m kind of done with him.
So this movie is a lot of fun and the cast are fantastic, great development rolls out as we’re told just enough to cause doubt with each scene. It almost felt like sitting on a jury watching the evidence pour out. Helpless and completely at a loss for who to believe. I was completely immersed, which is all I want from a film.
It can be hard to criticise the story as it stays (mostly) true to the source, so it would be unfair of me to give the film merit it didn’t create. Murder on the Orient Express is incredible and sets the bar completely for murder mysteries and every game of Cluedo played since. What I want to give it credit for is fantastic film-making. The composition and camera angles are fantastic, as I already said we get amazing scale and great claustrophobia created with smart filming, a beautiful colour palette, great acting and a ballin’ moustache. What else would you expect with Ridley Scott lending a hand though!
It’s an absolute win and would I fully recommend.