Arts & Culture

Review: ‘The Murder on the Orient Express’ mystery disappoints

By Jacob VanHoutan, Staff Writer

“The Murder on the Orient Express” is the most recent adaptation of the classic Agatha Christie novel, and it was directed by Kenneth Branagh. The film is about Hercule Poirot which is one of the world’s greatest detectives. While he is traveling on the Orient Express, a man is killed and this causes him to embark on a journey to discover who the murderer is.

For context, I haven’t seen any of the previous versions of “Murder on the Orient Express,” and I haven’t read the book either. So I was walking into this film completely blind. I can only judge this film on its own merits, and I have to say that this film and its mystery is just not as compelling as I hoped.

Kenneth Branagh also stars as the lead character, Hercule Poirot, and I found both his character and performance very compelling. The film opens on a scene of him doing some detective work, and it helps build his character’s intelligence for the rest of the film. The film focuses primarily on Poirot, so he definitely becomes the most developed character.

But that creates an issue for the rest of the characters. We focus so much time on our protagonist that it causes the rest of the cast to seem very underdeveloped. In other murder mysteries like “Clue” each person becomes a fully developed character, even though we knew the film was setting them up to be suspects in the film.

Some characters, like Miss Mary Debenham, played by Daisy Ridley, or Hector MacQueen, played Josh Gad, have a lot more importance put on their roles, making it feel like other characters and their motives just aren’t as important to the overall story. Meanwhile, characters like Biniamino Marquez, played by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Pilar Estravados, played by Penelope Cruz, barely have any screen time, making them completely forgettable by the final act.

As said previously, I don’t know much about the original story, but I just don’t find the mystery compelling — at least the way it is told in this film. Poirot sometimes feels like an all-knowing god with the information he tells us, making the story seem like it is something that only he can figure out. The film is just disappointing. While Hercule Poirot is an interesting character, the rest of the cast is just very underdeveloped. This is a murder mystery where I didn’t care about the mystery.

This article first appeared in the Friday, November 17, 2017, Edition of The Echo.