Murder on the Orient Express

Not the Type of Detective Movie I Expect – Murder on the Orient Express Review

For a fair amount of times watching the advertisement of this movie, it got me really interested for a go.

After this bland 120 minutes, my instinct was proved wrong.

The directing really sucks. Basically, in the first half of the movie, many scenes looked so forced. How the victim died; how the detective entered the room full of suspects and announced the tragedy; and how the train manager (called Brook I suppose?) was so appalled there was a dead body in the cabin, etc. None of these sequences are natural, they all look like actors are trying their best to simulate a murder scene and react as “supposed to”. There didn’t seem like anything that is a genuine and normal reaction but all forced upon.

If the actors are all acting as commanded, they are not actors. Actors’ duty is to bring the most realistic reactions possible upfront to the audience, so the audience would be “cheated” that all of these are real. But they didn’t seem real at all in this case.

Overall, I feel like this movie is more of a… dress-up show? Rather than an actual detective movie? I feel like they put a lot of efforts into makeups, costumes and the overall scenery and theme but failed to deliver an actual intense and interesting deduction and human reactions. All these fancy dresses, fancy suits, fancy old 1930s really don’t give away anything if the plot is hollow, and the directing is a lack of consideration and experiences. The movie has no soul, in short.

Needed to point out, I’ve never seen a Detective Poirot TV series or movies before, but I know this franchise.

In the late stage of the movie, Poirot started his deduction, which was pretty bad. Because all his deduction was impossible to find any relations or basis in the previous part of movie. As audience, we were simply hearing what this guy was saying, all the deduction can be said baseless to our recognition.

Most of the time, a detective plot has to have enough foundations, hints, evidences, either intentionally hidden or left unscratched among the plot. The audience have a chance of spotting those traces. A plot without the chance is a baseless plot, we are not really deducting anything or thinking alongside, we are just in a drama, told by “whoever”.

So this whole thing would land on the heads of screenplays and director. Due to the previous “unsolved” murder, “the terrifying General Armstrong’s daughter’s kidnap”, there were too many links between this point on the timeline and that point. Before you, are all these messy and intertwined human relationships and conspiracies, it’ll definitely prove a hard job on getting this movie a making-sense one. Because there were just too many hints we were not able to know unless we had watched or read that case before. All of this whole “plotted together” thing looks like a joke. That’s why I’m saying how the screenplays and director did not have a clear mind and handle this well.

The camera work was just not right either. We were only shown a very few of hints in the movie, and they were all very very obvious. And the camera was just not great at capturing these hints, the small ones were completely neglected. In the sequence of discovering the dead body of Ratchett, the camera was on full-time bird sight. I really don’t get it why they chose this way of displaying an utmost important crime scene. And the body was not shown first, but only after the observation from the doctor did we know the situation in the cabin. If, you want to show the public’s reactions, their genuine emotional reactions, at least put the camera in front of their frigging faces! What is this bird sight angle?

At first, I thought they using this angle was because the passage was too narrow and they were filming actually on a bridge. But really, you can do better than this. On some level, I can consider that part of movie is completely wasted.

On characters. This might as well be a plot thing. Many character relations just don’t make sense. Even when Poirot was accusing everyone of lying but seriously, the backgrounds, the relations, and the revelations all of them, were so baseless and looked forced. Even actors were trying to save the scenes, they had subtle performances to show one’s relationship with another or whatever. But I couldn’t find any actual brilliant plot design there. I can say I was not surprised about the twist at the end, that “everyone is a murderer and everyone has participated in this murder” stuff.

Enough about the ranting, the movie still has its shiny points there. I like how the writer tried to tackle about the humanity problem.

This murder is not just a murder that simple, that we got a victim and a killer and whoever finds out the killer is the winner, and killer needs to be judged. This murder spans from a previous renowned kidnap case to this current collusion. That one before was the cause, this one right now is the consequence.

I like how Poirot at the end didn’t report all these “murderers”, he thought that justice was a mere perspective and balance inside everyone’s heart. Ratchett the victim deserved a death because of his previous sin, everyone on the train was initially for the their love and bonds of General Armstrong and his family. This whole twisted human nature is actually pretty humane, because as humans, we are always contradicting ourselves.

There is no absolute justice, just like there is no absolute injustice. Everything is perspective. But even though it’s so perspective out there, we shouldn’t lose hope, otherwise nihilism is going to dominate the world and people’s hearts.

It’s simply understanding ourselves as human, and understanding others as human when they do something.

The dress-up theme of this movie, can be considered a minus, but also a plus. I can’t say I don’t like these 1930s vibes, it looks pretty classy and cool. Overall graphics looks very beautiful, makes you wonder whether that was just in a studio.

Overall, 5/10. Can’t give it higher.

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