Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

murder on the orient express poster 2017 review
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting : 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Classic story with new stylized look

Doesn't really need to be done again

Movie Info

Movie Name: Murder on the Orient Express

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Genre(s): Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): November 3, 2017 (UK)/November 10, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

murder on the orient express johnny depp killed

I think we can rule out accident…

Inspector Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) finds himself rerouted from Jerusalem to London and a guest aboard the Orient Express.  When an underworld American “businessman” named Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp) is discovered murdered in his train compartment after confessing to Poirot that someone was trying to kill him, the passengers find that they might all be suspects.  An avalanche has delayed the train and as the tracks wait to clear, Poirot must work quickly to suss out the murderer and solve the crime…but with a killer on the loose, Poirot and the other members of the train could become targets.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, Murder on the Orient Express is a murder mystery.  The film is an adaptation of the classic 1934 Agatha Christie novel.  The movie was released to mostly positive reviews.

Murder on the Orient Express is a classic murder mystery and is often a title thrown out when people talk about mystery novels and their tropes.  The story has been adapted multiple times in various forms on the big screen and small.  While it always makes for a good story, it also sometimes feels redundant.  Since the film is a mystery, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

murder on the orient express daisy ridley kenneth branagh

I know it is a very dynamic location, Poirot…but should we be concerned about more avalanches?

The genius and the fallacy of Murder on the Orient Express is the story.  While today, a lot of the mystery plotlines used in the story (locked chamber, strange noises, different outfits, etc.) are all cliché, they weren’t necessarily completely cliché when Christie wrote the novel.  This leaves a filmmaker a few choices.  They can follow the novel and keep what is now a cliché or they can risk changing up the story for a new murderer and breaking some of those classic storylines.  Branagh and the scriptwriter decided to be mostly faithful to the original work…and that is admirable, but it doesn’t lead for many surprises.

In a lot of these mysteries, the “guest cast” is always a big deal, and this outing doesn’t miss a beat there.  Branagh is a good Poirot (and emphasizes his eccentricities) but he is also surrounded by a number of award winning actors.  Johnny Depp, the victim, gets out early, but other actors get some opportunities to shine while some feel like cameos.  Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Derek Jacobi, Josh Gad, Penélope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr., Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman, and Michelle Pfeifer among other populate the train and jockey for screen time.

murder on the orient express ending mystery


Unlike a Sherlock Holmes mystery that is shrouded in darkness, Poirot (and Ms. Marple) mysteries always seemed lighter and pleasant.  Surrounded by bright snow, the Orient Express is sharp and clear through most of the film and lurking in the shadows isn’t one of the escapes given to the potential murders.  It is kind of a pleasant change from more atmospheric mysteries.

Murder on the Orient Express is good, but it isn’t great.  One of the bigger problems I have with the movie is the problem I have with the book.  There are so few people on the train and all of them just happen to have a tie to one person…it is used as a bit of a red herring for the final deduction (who can it be when they all have motives), but it also at the same time seems a ridiculously simple answer.  It is like Occam’s razor…the simplest answer is the right answer (which it was).  Murder on the Orient Express’s success did greenlight a sequel.  Poirot returned in Death on the Nile but due to COVID-19 the 2020 release date was pushed back to 2022.

Related Links:

Death on the Nile (2022)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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