A & E

Murder On The Orient Express: A Thrilling Ride From Start To Finish

Kenneth Branagh stars in Twentieth Century Fox’s “Murder on the Orient Express.”

Take a seat: If you ride first-class, they’re plush. The eggs on this train are perfectly measured — equal in size. Have you been to the dining car yet? The passing view of snowcapped mountains is lovely. Do you want coffee or champagne? Both are on the house. Be aware though: Desire can be deadly.

“Murder on the Orient Express” sheds a new-age light on a vintage tale of crime and mystery.

The film, based off Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel, remakes the 1974 original. However, Director Kenneth Branagh uses a phenomenal cast and stunning visuals to make his adaptation of this well-known mystery stand out.

The plot follows world-renowned Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, played by Branagh himself, after he boards a Europe-bound luxury train. Passing through a stormy snowscape, an avalanche brings the Orient Express to a halt. With the train broken down in the middle of nowhere, people recollect themselves and head to the dining car to discuss a plan of action. But Poirot and his close friend Wolfgang Bouc, played by actor Tom Bateman, are busier discussing the dead passenger in the cabin next to their own. Bouc, whose father owns the train, begs Poirot to take on the case and unveil the murderer. As Poirot delves deeper by interrogating remaining passengers, the clues lead to an unlikely suspect and Poirot spirals farther from the truth.

Aside from mayhem, the truth is: “Murder on the Orient Express” molds a dazzling cast who all resemble characters from the classic board game “Clue.”  

Filled with familiar faces, including Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench and Penélope Cruz to name a few, the film is irresistible to view. The actors look magnificent and create true chemistry on set.

The film plays off this subtle board-game theme through its use of camera angles. There are several moments where the screen looks directly down on players, as if they are the heads of game pieces, and only allows the audience a bird’s eye view of key murder clues. As intended, it stretches the element of suspense.  

The movie provides to-die-for cinematography. However it’s soundtrack, composed by Patrick Doyle who scored “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, ” “Thor” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” gets lost among the plot and alluring camera angles.

Moreover, though the score is intriguing on its own, it doesn’t mix well with the film itself. Often times you either get sucked into the musical aspect or you forget about it entirely because of the thickening plot that provides enough visual anticipation for the sound to make a difference.

Though once the credits start rolling, an original song sung by Pfeiffer with lyrics by Branagh plays and makes up for a bit of the musical loss in the film itself.

“Murder on the Orient Express” is not perfect, however it is highly entertaining. Filled with re-thought versions of old conflicts, it piques your internal sleuth until the very last blow of the whistle as the locomotive pulls into the station.

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