While my viewing experiences of late has me in full blown debate mode, I finally decided to view Murder on the Orient Express (2017) on Wednesday in theaters. For years, I have wanted to view the predecessor and recently I have wanted to read the Agatha Christie novel the films are modeled after. Not only did my desire increase after Wednesday’s viewing, I also realized that at some point or another I want to use a train as my method of traveling. Experiences are important after all and like Monsieur Bouc (Tom Bateman) said, “There is something about a tangle of strangers pressed together for days with nothing in common but the need to go from one place to another, and never see each other again.”
In the case of Murder on the Orient Express, there are thirteen individuals that are forced to mingle within the cabins of the express as they travel across country together. The surprise guest among the passengers is famed detective Hercule Poiret (Kenneth Branagh). This of course is unlucky for the individual who commits murder on the train in the evening only to be discovered upon the train derailing due to an avalanche. As the detective interviews all of the passengers, he finds himself unable to put together a puzzle that normally comes so easy to him. With all the deception and the puzzle pieces not coming together, audiences begin to wonder if Poiret will be able to deduct who is a murderer and who is not.
A part of me did not want to come into a remake with high expectations, but my expectations were far higher than normal. Maybe that is because of how famed this story continues to be over the years, but I also think this has something to do with the all-star cast as well. Despite knowing that bad films can be made with all-star casts all the time, I do not feel that Murder on the Orient Express is one of those films. Everyone in the cast was on top of their a-game though my favorite two performances within the feature are that of Michelle Pfieffer and Josh Gad. While all the other actors shine in their own right, Gad and Pfieffer stole the shows in their scenes. My heart went out to these characters above all the others. In many ways, the numerous roles within the feature prove that there are no small parts.
In addition, aesthetically, the film is absolutely breathtaking. From the close ups of the steam engine to the shots where we pan out and see the various landscapes when the characters are being transported from one location to another. The CGI shines through in many ways I have never known it to in other films, proving the leaps and bounds the digital world has made in constructing a world so lifelike. The costumes are also a treat as they take us back to a simpler time period. There are also some interesting shots that take place overhead so audiences can hear and view various hand movements as they discuss what has transpired on the train.
What is truly a gem within the picture is how Hercule Poiret puts every single passenger at ease. On a train of all places, a murder taking place is not an ideal situation for anyone to control. And while Bouc takes control and is determined he is the one that puts the passengers at ease the truth is Poiret is the only person who can do such. Poiret’s other stand out action is that he does not believe in discrimination regardless of gender, sexuality, or color. He treats each and every passenger with the respect her or she deserves as he picks up on details the average person would never dream of picking up. He does not stereotype and believes that each person is innocent until proven guilty. It’s a refreshing sentiment in a society that condemns first and asks questions later.
Ultimately, and most importantly, this mystery is executed in such a way that by the time the film concludes, I had to sit in theaters for a second. This was not only to gather my keys to leave for the evening, but also because I could not fathom what had just transpired. For someone going into the film without knowledge of its predecessors, I would find them hard pressed to unravel the mystery before Poiret. Considering most films these days reveal the killer in the trailer Murder on the Orient Express takes us on a ride and does not let up until the very end, keeping its secrets to itself and revealing only the pieces audiences needs to know when we need to know them. And I hope we get to take many more journeys with Poiret, especially to the Nile.