With my popcorn and Milk Duds in hand, I was pumped going into “Murder on the Orient Express”. Since the posters and the trailer with the cast list starting popping up in theaters a few months ago, I have been anticipating this stacked cast to impress with me. They did not disappoint.
The movie opens with Hercule Poirot, a world famous detective, and a seemingly random group of strangers of their way from Istanbul to Paris on the Orient Express. It doesn’t take long before one of the passengers is murdered and Poirot, played by Kenneth Branagh, takes the case.
Branagh perfectly captured Poirot’s perfectionism and wit while keeping him a relatable character. Branagh shows his perfectionism through Poirot’s compulsive breakfast habits, but keeps him down to Earth with his reminiscing of his late wife. His portrayal allows the audience to see Poirot’s inner crisis while remaining above the fray to the passengers on the train.
Agatha Christie’s books have always had me hooked. From “And Then There Were None” and “Murder on the Orient Express” to intricate characters and plot twists, they have never failed to keep me engaged. The stories are filled with moral crisis, drama, and confusion and this transferred perfectly to the silver screen.
Though I was thrilled to see the movie, I was worried that my expectations were too high and the film wouldn’t live up to my hopes. With Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, this cast was packed with household names. Michelle Pfeiffer’s interpretation of Mrs. Hubbard was spot on. Mrs. Hubbard is a complex character and her motives for being on the train are brought into question and Pfeiffer played all angles of the part well.
I can listen to the Hamilton soundtrack on loop, so when I heard Leslie Odom Jr., Aaron Burr in Hamilton, was going to play Dr. Arbuthnot I was elated. He, like many of the characters, managed to play it two ways: the helpful doctor and a murder suspect.
They all have this facade about them when Poirot is trying to solve the case, but they also have their own personal struggles that add complexity to their characters.
Josh Gad was the one that caught me off guard. In my head, he is a smiley snowman singing about summer in “Frozen” which contrasts greatly from his dark portrayal of Hector MacQueen. I expected him to be the comic relief, but that was definitely not the case. Gad is usually awkward and humorous, but ended up being one of my favorite characters even though he was one of the darkest.
To top off all of the stellar cast and acting performances, the setting of “Murder on the Orient Express” was my favorite part about the book and the movie. Putting the characters in a setting where they are all in such close quarters makes the movie more intense. They are trapped and being interrogated outside the train by Poirot in the snow was as far as they could go.
I won’t spoil the end of the movie, but even having read the book I was still caught off guard. Only little tidbits of information was revealed through the movie until the end. The suspense dragged out until the very end when the murderer was revealed and kept me listening carefully until they had caught them.