Having a good mystery will leave the viewer guessing all throughout the entire production. One such notable writer that had her stories adapted into feature films was Agatha Christie. Dubbed “the queen of crime”, the stories Christie wrote involved interesting characters, and unique scenarios. One of her most infamous works, “Murder on the Orient Express”, was adapted into a feature film in 1974; it’s okay. Now, with more modern technology, a new adaptation is being released this year in 2017; it’s okay, too. There are some really good things to say about this movie, and some not so good. But overall, if one goes into this movie not reading the book, they might find a decent mystery; those who have, pretty much know what to expect. The 2017 version of “Murder on the Orient Express” may do Christie justice, but the problems are definitely on board
The story involves detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) being relieved from a case in the Middle East. Aboard the Orient Express train, Poirot is granted of meeting a multitude of characters, most of whom he surmises as strangers with individual goals. However, on one night, a murder is committed, and now, it is up to Poirot to find out who is the killer.
With the 2017 interpretation of “Murder on the Orient Express”, there are some good things that are attached to the project. For one thing, the cast does a good job as Poirot, and the rest of the cast which includes actors and actresses such as Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Judi Dench, and Daisy Ridley. The set design, the cinematography, and the costumes are all amazing to look at, and get the time period of the 1930s correctly. Another interesting good quality about the film is the pacing; it’s slow, and keeps the viewer invested at all times. It seems as if there is nothing wrong with the film whatsoever.
Well, the story can be the biggest issue presented here. What do I mean by this, you ask? As someone who has read the book prior to watching this movie, as well as the 1974 adaptation, this version does follow the book fairly closely. However, there are a lot of key moments and scenes, most notably the beginning, that are added just to give the movie some filler. Speaking of which, there are key scenes, which I will not spoil, that are not from the book, but seemed to give the movie some action. Plus, the final confrontation near the end is really irritating and makes no sense whatsoever. Despite all of this, the movie does follow the book with a little bit more open-mindedness than the 1974 version.
A few minor discrepancies do appear in the film as well. For starters, most of the characters are given very little screen time, and do not offer a lot of dialogue exchanges. And then there’s the camera; when it wants to, the camera can be given some great shots in the film. But there are certain moments where it makes you wonder what kind of direction were the cameramen given. For example, there’s an overhead shot of the train’s room, not bad. But because it’s an overhead shot, we only given a small portion of what’s happening on the screen. And then there’s the action, which does give the intensity of a movie, but as an adaptation of a mystery novel, it just doesn’t work.
In conclusion, this new version of “Murder on the Orient Express” is an okay adaptation of the book by Christie, but the long end of it is that it just needed to present itself with a much more better narrative flow. Well, that’s one case solved, I guess.