“Murder On The Orient Express”: A Movie A Grandma Can Love

By Scott Kurland

Film: Murder On The Orient Express

Starring Kenneth Branagh, Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr, Judi Dench, and Willem DaFoe

Rated PG-13

Director: Kenneth Branagh

  Let me begin by saying this about Kenneth Branagh...Grandmas love him! Perhaps it’s because he’s been the bad boy of Shakespeare for almost thirty five years. He's adapted, directed, and starred in countless productions both on stage, television, and film. His resume includes appearances in terrible films like “Wild Wild West,” Woody Allen’s critically panned “Celebrity” and Robert Altman’s “The Gingerbread Man.” That said, he's also played several famous literary characters like Victor Frankenstein and Gilderoy Lockhart; both of which were well received. In this weeks film, Branagh blends stylized filmmaking, classic literature, and his calm directing approach for“Murder On The Orient Express.” Let’s find out if it’s any good shall we?

  Branagh stars as famed detective Hercule Poirot. Poirot claims to be the world’s greatest detective; a moniker given to him by himself…selfless right? Poirot finds his vacation to Istanbul cut short when he is summoned away to consult on a case in London. His mode of transportation? The Orient Express. His peaceful journey is interrupted when an infamous passenger (Johnny Depp) is murdered in a gruesome manner. Now Poirot is tasked with discovering which of the other passengers is responsible for the crime. The only problem is each of these passengers all have a secret connection to one another. Who did it? Only Hercule Poirot can uncover the truth.

   First, let me commend Branagh on two wonderful things about this film. First his glorious mustache, second, a two minute scene of him staring at fresh baked breads. I could watch two hours of him doing that, because the look of pure joy on his face is amazing. Aside from that, I can’t say much about the film. It’s very by-the-numbers. Its lacking in action or suspense, which is odd since this is a murder mystery. The film looks great, but the story doesn’t allow us to interact with the other characters very much. It’s all Poirot all the time. I know it’s his mystery to solve, but we get a maximum of two minutes with each character and very little development occurs. Its for this reason that  I can’t say Josh Gad was great or Daisy Ridley blew me away. They were all equally fine and that’s where I’ll leave that.

The look of the film feels like classic David Lean or Sidney Lumet films, which is what Branagh was going for here. He achieves the feel of an old Hollywood star-studded caper with great cinematography and production design. I really liked certain aspects of “Murder On The Orient Express.” I truly did. However, this film reminded me of when I would visit my grandparents and we would watch an old movie on basic cable . It’s good enough, but the film’s trailer was so powerful that I was hoping the entire movie would follow that tone and, sadly, it did not.

                “Murder On The Orient Express,” is good enough for a matinee or a Friday night rental. It’s surprisingly relaxing in its slow pacing, but I wanted more. This film is alright, but it had potential to be really great. The brief action scenes were entertaining, but I wanted to be on the edge of my seat. I know it’s a period piece, but I was hoping for Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlocke Holmes”  and what I got was “Downton Abbey.” If you want to pay full price go ahead, but I’d advise you to wait for bargain night.

REVIEW RATING: B-

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