There aren’t nearly enough murder mysteries made these days. They’re fun, but I get how they’re difficult to execute. In these kinds of films, you have only the facts to look at. Whereas, in real life, you can look at if someone seems like they’re lying. In a movie, everyone is lying because they’re all actors. You can’t solve it from that. So the clues are all given in what the audience–and, in this case, the detective–knows, and nothing else.
Fortunately, we’re all on the same page in this one. Often times, the filmmakers have to give the on-screen detective some bit of information that we don’t get to know, in fear that we might solve it before we’re supposed to. But here, it’s not a crap shoot because we can still figure it out if we really think about it. Yet, we still don’t–unless we already know the story.
I suppose, however, that in these instances, the film is most enjoyable for those who haven’t read the book or watched any previous adaptations. Because the best part, still, is the mystery and the conclusion, itself. If one already knows the outcome, then they are looking at other things. For me, I didn’t know the story, so with fresh eyes, I thought it was truly well-executed. Though, by others’ standards, maybe it won’t quite live up to its predecessors. Taking on a project of this nature, you can’t please everyone.
The movie starts off a little slow as our main character, detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh), is being established. We get to see him solve a case, meet with some friends, and then eventually get a telegram requesting his help solving a case in London. His friend gets him the last room left on his train, the Orient Express.
The murder on the train doesn’t occur until almost the 40 minute mark, but then it significantly picks up the pace from there without losing its identity or tone established before.
Details pile up, but the dialogue is so fluid that it’s pretty easy to follow unless you’re not a fan of movies with a lot of talking.
Where it gets the most confusing, no matter what you like, is when the dialogue relies too heavily on the characters’ names to let us know what’s going on. There are about a dozen other passengers on the train that help make up this ensemble cast–which includes Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, and Judi Dench, to name a few–and it gets hard to keep them all straight at first. But eventually we catch on.
When watching a whodunit, there is always this inherent fear that the conclusion won’t be worth the time you spend waiting for it. However, this story is one of the most famous mysteries for a reason. It’s really clever. And as someone who has had no exposure to any Poirot in his life, this film has made me a fan. Now I want to see more. This is my own benchmark.