Murder on the Orient Express: What a Ride!

Let me start this out right away: Murder on the Orient Express, based on the Agatha Christie book of the same name, is an intellectual thrill-ride with an all-star cast and perfect cinematography. You should go see it. Right now. Get your tickets here.

If you haven't yet had the pleasure, please halt now; here there be spoilers.

The film features Kenneth Branagh as both the director and the leading role, great detective Hercule Poirot (pronounced air-COOL PWA-roe. Do not call him Hercules, he's had enough of that). Other big names include Daisy Ridley, the inimitable Leslie Odom Jr., Tom Bateman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Manuel-Garcia-Rulfo, Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Dame Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, and Willem Dafoe.

With all this talent confined into a few small-yet-luxurious train cars, there was bound to be at least a few stellar performances. Happily, there proved to be many, as each actor seemed to rise to the challenge immensely, shedding their iconic self-images in favour of truly embodying the characters. I will admit, I didn't even recognize Willem Dafoe at first, and I was raised on the original Spider-Man trilogy.

The cinematography was beautiful and striking throughout the film, from the avalanche that knocked the Express off the tracks to the staging of the final showdown in the tunnel. By far the best, however, was the scene where Poirot discovers the body of the victim. The corpse is not shown, and the actors are shot from a bird's eye view, directly above their heads as they plan their next move. The framing leaves an undeniable impression of the classic board game Clue. It is a game of strategy, a locked-room mystery where anyone and everyone is a suspect. The audience is drawn into the mystery from the get-go and stays invested right until the end. 

In short, Murder on the Orient Express is a masterful re-telling of one of the most gripping murder mysteries of all time, full of all the thrills, tension, intrigue, and even a few laughs, that will make it a classic film worthy of the legacy it has undertaken. Treat yourself, and head out to see one of the best films to grace 2017 so far.

 

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