Murder On The Orient Express is much like watching the engine tear past, as its secrets and mysteries are deduced from afar
Belgian Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is set to return to London from Istanbul and is kindly offered a place upon the magnificent steam engine The Orient Express. However, the atmosphere upon the train becomes distasteful to Poirot, and his skepticisms are heightened when he finds himself solving another mystery after one of the passengers is brutally murdered during the night.
A key component of very many Poirot novels is the ability to distract from the main proceedings, producing a lull in the excitement and time to think. That goes for both Poirot and the reader as they trawl through the mystery to find the reality behind it. Kenneth Branagh’s Murder On The Orient Express is a hefty piece with a substantial run-time, yet it simply does not feel like enough time to understand the characters and work out what is happening.
Obviously, by now it is a well-known story, but that doesn’t distract from the fact that it is still new to some and needed to be paced perhaps a little differently. The opening section, though fun, is unnecessary and could have given vital time to the actual story. Films often run for huge lengths in the current release schedule and have done for a long time so there should have been no pressure to keep it as close to two hours as possible.
Due to this, mainly timing issue, Murder On The Orient Express does feel cramped and overwhelming, something that the expansive style and fascinating visuals were not set up for. The soundtrack fits well in a similar style to The Great Gatsby and Branagh’s Poirot is both excessive and wonderful. The cast as a whole should be enthralling, but there is just not the time invested into each member to understand their personalities.
Murder On The Orient Express is much like watching the engine tear past, as its secrets and mysteries are deduced from afar. It’s a joy to watch the steam float upwards and the carriages blur past in the snow, but it would have been far more interesting to experience the action from inside than stuck with wet boots on the sidelines.