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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Reviewed by on Nov 10, 2017
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw Murder on the Orient Express, the new film with an all-star cast telling the classic tale of a killing on a fancy train. Are you a mystery buff? Is it for you? Check our movie review.

By: Lynn Barker

In Murder on the Orient Express, it’s the 1930’s and famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) solves the case of the theft of a valuable artifact in Jerusalem. He needs a restful vacation bigtime but his train trip on the famed Orient Express proves anything but relaxing. A very unpleasant American named Samuel Ratchett (Johnny Depp) is stabbed to death and nobody on the train liked him. Don’t you hate it when you have to work on vacation?

atchett (Johnny Depp) tries to get Poirot to be his bodyguardRatchett (Johnny Depp) tries to get Poirot to be his bodyguardCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Unexpected Trip

After solving a case In Jerusalem, detective Hercule Poirot has his vacation plans interrupted by old friend Bouc (Tom Bateman), director of fancy train the Orient Express who offers a free three-day trip on the train after Poirot gets a telegram saying a case in London needs his attention. On the way to Istanbul to board the train, Poirot meets pretty governess Mary Debenham (Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley) and her friend Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jr.) who will also board the train.

Daisy Ridley as Mary DebenhamDaisy Ridley as Mary DebenhamCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Be My Bodyguard

On the second evening on the train, rude American shady, illegal “importer” Samuel Ratchett asks Poirot to be his bodyguard. He’s been getting threat letters, he thinks from dissatisfied buyers of his fake wares. Not Poirot’s thing. He solves crimes, not guards criminals. That night, Poirot’s sleep is interrupted by noises in Ratchett’s room. Opening the hallway door, the detective sees someone in a red kimono running down the hallway. Boom, whoosh! There is a snowy avalanche that knocks the train off its tracks. Everyone is stranded until the engine can be put back on the track!

Ratchett is sure someone wants to kill himRatchett is sure someone wants to kill himCourtesy of 20th Century Fox


In the morning, Poirot learns that Ratchett had been stabbed to death in his bed. The twelve or more stab wounds are all quite different. Bouc asks Poirot to investigate the case so no rest for the famous detective. Nobody supposedly left or entered the area overnight and nobody is on the train who shouldn’t be so anybody there could be the killer. Bouc was sleeping in another carriage so he couldn't be the murderer. Near the body is a partially burned note connecting Ratchett to the case of Daisy Armstrong, the little daughter of a famous pilot who was kidnapped and murdered. (Note: this is modeled after the famous Lindbergh baby kidnap case). Daisy's murderer was John Cassetti, who got away with the crime. Poirot learns that Ratchett was really Cassetti so the killer must have something to do with that case and wanted revenge.

Mary Debenham with secret boyfriend Dr. Arbuthnot (right)Mary Debenham with secret boyfriend Dr. Arbuthnot (right)Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Who Done It?

As the investigation progresses it seems that more than one person on the train had a motive to kill Ratchett/Cassetti. Was it governess Debenham, Dr. Arbuthnot, elderly princess Dragomiroff (Dame Judi Dench), rich American Mrs. Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer), reclusive young Count and Countess Andrenyi (Lucy Boynton and Sergei Polunin), elderly, ill valet Beddoes (Derek Jacobi), hot religious zealot nurse Pilar Estravados (Penelope Cruz), Ratchett’s assistant McQueen (Josh Gad), bigoted Professor Hardman (Willem Dafoe) or one of the conductors?

The Princess (Judi Dench) and her assistantThe Princess (Judi Dench) and her assistantCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Rescue From the Snow

As the train is put back on the tracks, Poirot has trouble narrowing down who the killer is. He usually “gets” it very quickly so he is frustrated. When Arbuthnot thinks Poirot is going to pin it on Miss Debenham, his girlfriend, he shoots at Poirot and says he’s the killer. Poirot knows the man missed him on purpose and isn’t the killer. Assembling everybody outside before the train can get underway, Poirot reveals all his theories. One, Ratchett was killed by someone, probably an angry client, who got onboard then escaped or, could everyone onboard be involved in the murder? If so, what will Poirot do about this crazy case?

Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) greets Miss DebenhamPoirot (Kenneth Branagh) greets Miss DebenhamCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Wrapping Up

The Agatha Christie novel eventually called Murder on the Orient Express has been filmed for screen or TV at least four times in the past. This version, however, is really well-acted by a great cast and the movie looks just amazing. There are beautiful shots of the train on its travels and a cool avalanche. Kenneth Branagh (who directed the newest version of Cinderella) did a great job directing but he is also really fun to watch playing detective Poirot. He comes off as brilliant, eccentric and sadly sympathetic at the same time. The movie is as much about his character as the murder.

Poirot outside the stranded train.Poirot outside the stranded trainCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

It’s fun to see Star Wars’ Rey, Daisy Ridley play a totally different role and most often comic actor Josh Gad (voice of snowman Olaf in Frozen and Le Fou in Beauty and the Beast) is really good in a very dramatic part as McQueen. Nobody does sleazy/weird like Johnny Depp and he gets in some good work before his character becomes the murder victim.

McQueen (Josh Gad) with boss Ratchett (Johnny Depp)McQueen (Josh Gad) with boss Ratchett (Johnny Depp)Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

If you are an older tween or a teen who loves murder mysteries and if you haven’t read the book or seen earlier cinema versions, you won’t know who the killer is and can enjoy the movie more. The film would be too slow for younger tweens and kids. It is a really well-produced and acted movie so we can go four stars.

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Rating: 4

Murder on the Orient Express Movie PosterMurder on the Orient Express PosterCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

See Murder on the Orient Express in theaters now!


Have Your Say

Do you like mystery stories? Are you a Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley or Josh Gad fan? Chat it up with comments below!