Hercule Poirot is one of the most well-recognized characters in the history of literature and is often recorded as one of the best detectives in book history. This Belgian mustache-wearing detective was created by British author Agatha Christie, who designed him to be genuinely smart yet not fictionalized like Sherlock Holmes.
The result – stories and a character that is nuanced, and fun to read about! So, obviously, a film on Hercule Poirot starring none other than Kenneth Brannagh as the character seemed like a big deal.
How to Stream or Download Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
You can stream it or you can download the film from a digital store. Click on the Download button at the end of this review. Check out also our review more recent Agatha Christies novel adaptation – Death on the Nile (2022).
The Movie Review
The story is set after Hercule Poirot cracks one of the biggest cases of his career, and receives a good commendation for it. However, on his return trip from Jerusalem, he finds himself on a very peculiar train with a bunch of different characters who seem to be quite unique.
Things turned out for the worse during the night, is one of the passengers is murdered and now, everyone is a suspect in the eyes of Hercule Poirot. There has been a murder on the train, and no one will be free from questioning, deduction and the fear of getting caught for a crime they might or might not have committed.
It’s surprising to note that Kenneth Brannagh has directed this film himself, and it’s not his first time doing so. Ever since Hamlet in 1996, Brannagh found a knack for direction and has been at it for a while. Cinderella in 2015, Belfast in 2021 and Death on the Nile in 2022, he has been making solid films left and right. Though when it comes to Murder on the Orient Express, the writing does fail him a bit. It turns into quite the cat and mouse game, but most of it is wasted in dialogue sequences that don’t really advance the plot.
Played by many, truly dived into by few, Hercule Poirot as a character has immense value for all kinds of viewers. He’s previously been played by big names in the industry, such as Alfred Molina, John Malkovich, Albert Finney, and David Suchet. Though none of them dived as deep as Kenneth Brenner in the role, he explores the character to the deepest depths.
All aspects of Hercule Poirot’s personality are explored here along with the way he works. Brannagh’s performance is truly one of the biggest highlights of this film.
The rest of this star-studded cast joins in on the fun so Brannagh doesn’t carry it alone. Some of the most well recognizable faces in the industry are present here – Penélope Cruz, William Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman, Josh Gad, and even Dame Judi Dench.
This whole cast is stacked with talent, and so performance-wise, everyone tries to outperform the other and does a fantastic job of it.
This film has a very distinct visual style, it looks very different from every single film in the genre. It has quite a peculiar use of the camera, and with veteran cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos on board, Kenneth Brannagh sets out to make this one memorable.
Unfortunately, though, the visual style is pretty but the film itself has quite a forgettable story. Nothing major happens throughout the entire film until the very end when the case is cracked in a quick fashion.
The film has a great soundtrack though, that is something then nothing can take away from the film. The score by Patrick Doyle only exists to elevate this film to an even higher stylistic quality. It also helps that in a lot of the moments where the intensity is through the roof, is due to the soundtrack.
The soundtrack is truly one of the saving graces of the film coma aside from the fantastic performances.
The Bottom Line
On paper, Murder on the Orient Express seems like the perfect kind of phone. It seems like a weird mix of a noir thriller, along with adventure and a tonne of drama. Though in execution, the film turns out to be a much different beast altogether.
This is a slow film with a lot of dialogue, random moments of intensity, and a bunch of different characters yelling at each other for the most part. If the film’s direction had more weight to it, this film could have been something truly experimental and fun to watch.
- Great visuals, very stylish.
- Elevating soundtrack, beautiful and haunting.
- Fantastic acting by the A-List cast.
- Tiresome pacing, takes too long with nothing happening.
- A mediocre retelling of the original works.