Following my recent (and positive) first viewing of Knives Out (2019), I had a craving for some more mysteries so I decided to check out Murder on the Orient Express which I hadn’t seen before either. As another murder mystery film, I had the same expectations heading into this one as I did with Knives Out (2019) – I wanted to be surprised and thoroughly captivated by the story. While Murder on the Orient Express had a nice mix of humour and mystique that created an overall favourable experience, I was unfortunately let down by the end reveal which kind of ruined the film for me.

[This review contains spoilers; please read at your own discretion]

Kenneth Branagh as detective Hercule Poirot

Directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh (he is forever Gilderoy Lockhart to me), I found his portrayal of detective Hercule Poirot to be the highlight of the film. Remember, it’s Hercule not Hercules. Not only did I love his thick French accent, I found his peculiar and unique personality to be incredibly likable. The stache…I probably could’ve done without. Supported by a stellar cast including the likes of Tom Bateman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Odom Jr., Josh Gad, Judi Dench, and Olivia Colman, the actors were certainly impressive and managed to put on pretty good performances. I could see how upon this film’s release back in 2017, having so many A-listers involved in this film definitely drew a lot of attention.

Despite the cast doing the best with what they were given, I did find the characters (aside from Poirot) to feel kind of underdeveloped. I didn’t particularly care for any of them and I didn’t really like any of them. Perhaps keeping them unfamiliar to the audience was part of the illusion of the mystery, but I would’ve liked to have seen the characters being more than one-dimensional. I didn’t find anything wrong with the acting though of course, the characters just weren’t my favourite.

Detective Poirot talking to McQueen played by Josh Gad

And with the movie being less than two hours long, I felt Murder on the Orient Express had pretty decent pacing overall. Although the beginning does start off a bit slowly, it was necessary so the audience would be introduced to the brilliance of detective Poirot. I especially enjoyed the opening sequence and getting to witness a glimpse of his talents and crime-solving. It set the tone nicely for the rest of the movie and I could easily see we would be getting a bit of comedy mixed in with all the mystery. I also really liked how Poirot solving the case at the beginning demonstrated how the littlest of details were vital and could not go unnoticed if we wanted to solve the case.

In terms of how engaging this movie was, once the murder finally occurred, I found myself a lot more interested in the story. I headed into this movie without any spoilers (upon the request of my boyfriend), and had a good time actively trying to find clues and decipher hidden meanings. With this being a mystery film, engagement is key for its success and I think it’s safe to say I was pretty interested throughout the entire movie. I definitely grew increasingly curious as more clues were discovered and was intrigued as to how Poirot would solve the mystery.

Johnny Depp as Ratchett aka revealed to be Cassetti

Thoroughly enjoying the build up and seeing pieces of the puzzle getting put together, I started to get excited for the conclusion. Who did it? How did they do it? Why did they do it? I threw out my guess (which was terribly wrong) and patiently waited to find out. But to my genuine disappointment, I was utterly discouraged by the final reveal. Now the reveal is the most important aspect of a mystery movie and with me being so unimpressed by the one in Murder on the Orient Express, this really knocked off a couple points for me.

When it was finally revealed that everyone was in on the murder of Ratchett aka Cassetti, instead of being in awe, I was disappointed. I remember thinking, “that’s how this ends?” Now this is totally subjective, but it just didn’t work for me. It felt kind of gimmicky and an easy way out – nothing made sense because everyone was in on the murder! I wanted to feel shocked like this person who I thought did it, was actually innocent but this guy who I never suspected was the one who committed the crime?! And leading up to this climax, I did feel like the execution was starting to fall apart. I started to grow highly suspicious of how everyone was connected to this Armstrong family and it just felt too planned to be a coincidence.

A picture of all the characters on the Murder on the Orient Express

Now I never watched the original Murder on the Orient Express (1974) film so I had no idea how this movie was supposed to end. I didn’t like that Poirot let everyone free and the ending just felt overall unsatisfying for a movie that I was really enjoying. I’m sure many people might disagree and find the reveal to be shocking and intriguing, but it honestly just didn’t work for me. It’s sad to say because I liked many aspects of this movie, but because the ending was just so disappointing to me, I’m going to give Murder on the Orient Express a 6.5/10. Although Branagh was a compelling and marvelous protagonist, he was unfortunately unable to direct the movie with the same kind of flair. Murder on the Orient Express ended up just falling a little short for me.