The murder mystery genre has not been popular for a couple decades now. In the thirties, there were black and white movies following along the same lines as Clue with detectives solving crimes. Before that there were around a hundred short Sherlock Holmes stories. But recently, murder mystery, while still an intriguing idea, has lost steam.
Murder on the Orient Express is based on a novel by Agatha Christie, a famous mystery writer of the thirties, and is now on the big screen. Murder mysteries may not be as popular as they were before but they’re still interesting and dynamic.
Something that I don’t often find in movies, but I actually found that Murder on the Orient Express seemed too short. It lacked much of the unnecessary drama in modern movies. Instead, it flowed from revelation to revelation, each more confusing than the next. Right as it seems the crime should be solved, there is another clue that makes the other seem impossible — instead of it being impossible, together the clues painted an image of one overall crime.
The film was star-studded, with Johnny Depp playing the murdered art dealer, the newest star of Star Wars, Daisy Ridley, playing a countess, and many other stars along the way. It is a little distracting to see someone you think of as a pirate or a Jedi playing someone in the thirties. Still, the actors make the complexities of their characters seem realistic and separate from any previous roles.
The complexities of the characters are always an important part in every murder mystery because everyone must seem like a killer. Though in this case, no one seemed like much of a killer. The characters were almost average people just stuck on a train. It’s hard to believe anyone did it even if they did have motive.
With it set in the thirties, it produces the same air as any other detective movie faced with an impossible crime. The sets and costumes were realistic. The characters interacted with the idea of the thirties as if they were actually there. It casually faced issues at the time like the prohibition, racism, and crime.
Murder on the Orient Express, as every good murder mystery should, left me wondering the entire time even as clues seemed to stack up in one direction. What I think separates this from other murder mysteries is that it also explores guilt and motive.
What makes a crime more criminal than others? Is there a motive that would allow the crime to have been valid? Is the hurt that a crime causes worth the crime itself?
The ending is not a perfect ending, leaving some unsatisfied, but for me it was one of the best endings I’ve seen. It allows the viewer to decide, just as the detective does, who the real criminal is.