The more I see of Sidney Lumet, the more I love this guy. It started with 12 Angry Men (which is still my favorite). Then Dog Day Afternoon. Then... Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, which... unfortunately... I didn't really like (it was too dark and serious for my tastes). Find Me Guilty was in there somewhere, which sports a Vin Diesel with hair and acting. Next was Network, which I saw earlier this year for this project. And now, finally, this one.
Based on the Agatha Christie novel, Murder on the Orient Express gives us an all-star cast all stuck on a train where a murder has taken place. On the train is detective Poirot (Albert Finney), who sets out to discover who could have killed this person and why. Among those joining Mr. Finney in this film include Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jean-Pierre Cassel (who is actually father of Vincent Cassel), Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York, and Sean Connery.
I only have one complaint, which is that the movie takes 40 minutes for anything to happen. Granted, it's not a wasted 40 minutes. It's used to introduce all the characters (and there are over a dozen), as well as a few scenarios that take place around the time of the murder, which are recalled again at the end of the film. Despite it being necessary, I wonder if it could have been tinkered with a bit to shrink it down any.
The acting is all fine and relatively quirky (particularly Albert Finney). But the one I wanted to point out was Anthony Perkins, obviously famous for Psycho. I thought while watching this that, boy, was he doing his best Jimmy Stewart impression. Nothing else to add... just wanted to make that note.
I did know the twist for this film going into it, unfortunately. But it only took away partial suspense. Even though I knew the "who," I was left curious as to the "how" and "why." Of course, I would have preferred knowing nothing, but knowing what I did, I still wasn't bored with the film. If you haven't seen the film and don't know the twist, I suggest going into it like that. It'll be a much more fun surprise.
The last thing I wanted to cover was the tone of the film. It deals with a very serious subject matter, but on the whole it's handled like Clue. It's a relatively light movie (with the exception of the flashback at the end that shows how it was done and whatnot). And there's some really quirky comedy--again, particularly from Finney, who is just strange in his brilliance. But the part that really sets it up more lightly is the music, particularly at the beginning and end. I went with it at the beginning, but the ending music threw me off, especially coming right after a bunch of serious stuff. So I suppose in that regard, there were some tonal issues, but nothing major enough for it to ruin the film.
So check it out if you haven't already. I don't think it's perfect, but it's a damn fine mystery. It was personally fun to see a collection of all these actors and actresses I've come to see over this project get together, as if everything were almost leading to this film. I know I didn't say a whole lot about the film itself, but what is there to say, really? If you like mysteries, it's one you can't pass up. Good stuff.