“Murder on the Orient Express” is a second adaptation of the popular book by Agatha Christie. True to the plot of the book, the film was about the esteemed detective Hercule Poirot and a group of wildly different strangers traveling to Stamboul on the Orient Express. This ride goes awry as one of the passengers is murdered, the train hits a snowdrift, and the group is stranded in the mountains with a murderer among them. “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017) is comprised of a star-studded cast and crew, with a lot of hype surrounding the potential.
The film seems to pick and choose what it takes from the book, “Murder on the Orient Express”. Many direct quotes were infused, but the beginning and the end differed from the plot quite a bit. The odd choices for how to deviate from the original did not pay off- it only served to confuse and rush the story-line. The opening scene, while irrelevant to the story, did set up one important point. The movie was clearly more about the quirks of Hercule Poirot rather than the murder itself. As the plot did suffer, there are suspicions that this is because star Kenneth Branagh (Hercule Poirot) was the director. He single-handedly shifted Poirot’s entire demeanor, character, and style.
With such a high focus on Poirot, and only so many characters, many of the passengers on the train did not reach their full potential and stayed in the shadows of Poirot. An entirely new character was added in, to replace the Swedish maid. Pilar Estravados (Penelope Cruz) was an unnecessary switch, but she was portrayed exactly the same character. Aside from the benign but obvious switches in the characters and plot, the movie had a few other faults. The events leading up to Poirot revealing the murderer were entirely difficult to follow and unrealistic if one had not read the book. This is because, understandably, a lot of the book took place in the thoughts of the characters. However, there was absolutely nothing striking about this new adaptation, and featured over-dramatized anticlimactic revelations that wouldn’t make sense unless you had read the book.
There was a completely unnecessary plot device, that did absolutely nothing to further the plot. Poirot, unlike what happened in the book, spent a solid 10 minutes of the movie crying over a woman named Katherine, whom never received a backstory. This only served to confuse the viewer further than the movie already had. The movie at times got very long and dragged through parts that should have only taken place implicitly in Poirot’s thoughts, just like the book. This made the movie have a tendency to be very boring, especially considering the fact that the entire movie revolved more around Poirot than the other characters as well as the story.
Branagh was probably trying to make something artistic and thrilling with this new movie, but fell short of the goal, ultimately letting down both “Murder on the Orient Express” sticklers and newcomers.
Sara Gofter // Staff Writer