Murder on the Orient Express: Film Review

I know the reviews for Murder on the Orient Express have been mixed at best but the cast is so incredible that I had to check it out anyway and I’m sorry to confirm that the masses were right – it is disappointing.


It is the 1930s, and legendary Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) boards the Orient Express train to travel across Europe while on a break between jobs. During the journey, the train is derailed by an avalanche in the Alps and Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp) is murdered by someone on board. Poirot has to interrogate the passengers and figure out who did it – from the governess (Daisy Ridley), the missionary (Penelope Cruz), the doctor (Leslie Odom, Jr), the professor (Willem Dafoe), the widow (Michelle Pfeiffer) and the princess (Judi Dench).

The cast – also including Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi and Olivia Colman – is insane and it is really cool seeing them all sat in the dining carriage. The film also looks very slick and stylish, with gorgeous sweeping shots across the snowy mountains and long takes throughout the train. It’s just a shame it’s more style than substance.

I thought that because I haven’t read the Agatha Christie classic or seen any of the previous screen adaptations – meaning I was in the minority in that I genuinely had no idea who did it – I would give it more of a shot because it would be genuinely mysterious and suspenseful, but it wasn’t at all. It was fun to watch and entertaining for sure, but I didn’t really care about any of the characters or the case and I wasn’t particularly engaged with it.

Branagh, complete with ridiculous moustache, really camps it up as Poirot and plays him for laughs and I liked this aspect. It injected some comedy into proceedings and made it more enjoyable. But nobody else seemed to be on that page – they were overacting and hamming it up a bit too (not much else you can do when given nothing more than a stereotype) – but they were playing it relatively straight so it felt a bit odd.

Murder on the Orient Express is fine enough but I struggled to keep up with the story and the characters, the script needed some work, and some of the cast were underused, like Cruz and Dafoe.

In cinemas now 

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