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Film / Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

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"You know, there is something about a tangle of strangers pressed together for days with nothing in common but the need to go from one place to another, and never see each other again."
Monsieur Bouc

Murder on the Orient Express is the second silver-screen adaptation of the classic Agatha Christie novel of the same name, following Murder on the Orient Express (1974). It's directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as the famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

Poirot is traveling from Istanbul to London via the Orient Express. During his journey, an American passenger is murdered, and at the insistence of his old friend Monsieur Bouc, a director of the Wagon-Lits Company, Poirot resolves to discover which of the other passengers in the train's Calais Coach committed the crime.

Like the 1974 film, this one boasts an international All-Star Cast:

Two sequels in that series followed, Death on the Nile in 2022 and A Haunting in Venice in 2023.

This story has a very spoilerrific ending, so read the trope list below at your own risk.

Murder on the Orient Express contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Pilar is implied to be one, as she punches out a man at the train station and has, "the calluses of a boxer."
  • Action Prologue: The film opens with Poirot solving a case in Jerusalem, which also serves as an Establishing Character Moment.
  • Actionized Adaptation: The film adds an action scene at the beginning to set up Poirot's character (he manages to expose and take out a corrupt policeman without getting his hands dirty), a chase scene on the rickety rail bridge, and another where one of the suspects shoots him non-fatally (which becomes a plot point).
  • Adaptational Diversity: Doctor Arbuthnot is now black, and his friendship with Colonel Armstrong is now gratitude for the latter giving him the chance to study medicine. Poirot's friend Bouc was originally a middle-aged manager, now a young party animal with the same job (but is very professional when the situation calls for it).
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Inverted. Poirot in the books is said to dye his hair and mustaches, a fact that somewhat embarrasses him. Branagh has him a dignified gray.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • A brawl between Count Andrenyi and some paparazzi breaking out in a bar before the characters board the train.
    • Colonel Armstrong tried to consult Poirot on his daughter's kidnapping, but by the time Poirot got his letter the Colonel had killed himself.
    • Dr. Arbuthnot getting into a fight with Poirot, who has to knock him out with a crowbar in the supply car.
    • There's a scuffle between Poirot & MacQueen on the supports of the trestle bridge.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Greta Ohlsson is now Pilar Estravados, the name of a character from the 1938 novel Hercule Poirot's Christmas.
    • Antonio Foscarelli is now Biniamino Marquez.
    • Cyrus Hardman is now Professor Gerhard Hardman. Subverted; this turns out to be an alias.
    • Played with in the case of Col. Arbuthnot, who becomes Dr. Arbuthnot.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
    • The change of Cassetti’s fate from being caught but acquitted to him just fleeing the country before he could be arrested. Arbuthnot even mentions the possibility of handing Cassetti over to the police when he’s trying to implicate himself, but it’s never brought up again when Poirot debates the morality of the passengers’ actions. It's worth mentioning, the 1974 film also has this same plot hole — in that adaptation he fled with the ransom money before he could be arrested and left his partner to be the fall guy, who only admitted Cassetti's involvement on the eve of his execution.
    • It was suspected that Marquez would be accused of the murder simply because of his Spanish surname. But Pilar also has a Spanish surname- yet nobody says that about her. Since Greta in the original would not have had that accusation due to her Swedish surname, perhaps they neglected in the remake to realize that Pilar having a Spanish surname could have likely gotten her accused. Alternately, perhaps the same prejudices that would favor a Spanish-named passenger as a scapegoat would also make the accusers presume a woman too timid, squeamish and/or incompetent to commit such a deed.
    • This adaptation also omits the part where Count Andrenyi explains that he acted on his wife's behalf during the execution of Ratchett—in the source material she took a dose of barbitol and slept through the whole thing, being too traumatised to participate—leaving her the only suspect technically innocent of the murder (though of course she is still part of the conspiracy). The fact that this leaves thirteen murderers but still only twelve stab wounds is simply never addressed (she doesn't however, appear in the flashback sequence of the murder, so it maybe the case this still is what happened despite it not being mentioned).
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: The late maid, Susanne, is changed from Michel's daughter to his sister, presumably to accommodate the character's Age Lift.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • In the original novel, the passengers were all very civil and polite to one another during the investigation. Here, there is a tense argument and general feeling of mistrust among the passengers after discovering that one of them is a killer, which is an act put on for Poirot's benefit.
    • Countess Andrenyi has become addicted to barbitol as a way of dealing with her sister's death. She's seen pouring one bottle down a sink at the end of the film, hinting that she may recover.
    • Poirot is a lot more conflicted about letting the killers go scot-free by letting Bouc present the bullshit solution to the Yugoslav police (though less conflicted than in the David Suchet TV adaptation). In the novel he was a lot more comfortable with the decision.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Ratchett in the novel isn't described as very attractive, and an older man, likely in his sixties. Here he's played by Johnny Depp. To be fair, he's definitely not handsome thanks to prosthetic makeup.
    • In the novel, Princess Dragomiroff is described as being almost spectacularly ugly, compared to a frog on more than one occasion, but in the film is played by the elegant Judi Dench.
    • The novel's Greta Ohlsson is compared to a sheep. Penelope Cruz' Pilar decidedly lacks this trait.
    • Poirot in literature is a short, rotund man with an egg-shaped head. Kenneth Branagh is none of these.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • In the books, Poirot was never described as being physically fit and rarely took part in any action more extreme than running. In this film, he's at least competent enough in a fight to knock out Doctor Arbuthnot when the righting of the train knocks him off balance, though it does make sense since in the book he was a former police officer.
    • Count Andrenyi is turned into a full blown Dance Battler who beats the living shit out of three men in seconds.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Just like in the small screen adaptation starring David Suchet, the doctor has gone from being an innocent bystander who assisted Poirot's investigation to being a member of the "jury" that sentences Ratchett to death. In fact, he goes so far as to shoot Poirot at one point, though he deliberately grazed him and tried to frame himself as the only culprit. It also applies to the other half of the Composite Character, as in the same scene Dr. Arbuthnot makes a rather jarring claim that Casetti didn't deserve a trial. Col. Arbuthnot in the book and previous adaptations firmly believed that trial by jury was a sound system, which was in fact the point of gathering twelve people to exact revenge on Casetti to begin with.
    • Cyrus Hardman is now an Austrian Professor who is explicitly racist and implied to be a Nazi, though this is subverted when it turned out he was faking his identity.
  • Adapted Out: Dr. Constantine, due to being combined with Col. Arbuthnot.
  • Age Lift: Masterman is said to be 37 in the book, but is played here by the 78-year-old Derek Jacobi. The previous movie had him played by a 70-year-old John Gielgud.
  • The Alcoholic: MacQueen says he left the States because Prohibition wasn't to his liking. He is drinking constantly throughout the film.
  • The Alibi: Bouc is the only person Poirot states is automatically innocent because he was not in the cabin during the murder, and therefore the only one he can trust to be his assistant.
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: The Rabbi in the Jerusalem segment is a stereotypical Hasidic (or at least Orthodox) complete with black fedora and long coat. Jews in Jerusalem during this time were overwhelmingly Mizhrahi and Sephardi, with the few Ashkenazim being largely secular settlers.
  • And I Must Scream: Ratchett was drugged, so he's wide awake and unable to move when getting stabbed.
  • And This Is for...: Each wound was by each suspect. Linda Arden is the last, and gives the Coup de Grâce with a verbal And This Is For.
  • The Anticipator: While giving The Summation for the Jerusalem theft, Poirot sends an armed guard to cover an entrance for when the suspect bolts, and sticks his cane in the Wailing Wall at the right height to trip him up when he doubles back that way.
  • Anti-Villain: The murderers had all been harmed by Ratchett's murder of Daisy Armstrong, either directly in the case of Hubbard, who is actually Daisy's grandmother or indirectly in the case of Arbuthnot, a close friend of Daisy's father.
  • Arc Words: Balance and imbalance.
  • Artifact Title: The train in the movie is actually the Simplon Orient Express because it stops in Vinkovci. In 1934 the normal Orient Express took a route from Istanbul to Calais with stops in Sofia and Belgrade before it splits up with the Simplon Orient Express. The Orient Express goes to Subotica while the Simplon Orient Express has its next stop at Vinkovci.
  • Asshole Victim: Ratchett was a gangster who murdered a child. Feeling sorry for him is difficult to say the least.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Poirot gets a rather matter-of-fact one when first confronting all the suspects:
      "My name is Hercule Poirot. And I am probably the greatest detective in the world."
    • He gives another one at the climax, right before the Summation Gathering:
      "You tell your lies, and you think no one will know the truth. But two people will know, yes two people. Your God... and Hercule Poirot."
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The murderers get away, though they're implied to be traumatized by the experience. Poirot also tells the police that the killer got away to cover for them. In fairness, calling them the villains when taking their motivations into consideration is a bit of a stretch.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Inverted with Princess Dragomiroff, who pretends to be a haughty Grande Dame, but in actuality is close with all of the other conspirators and last seen casually playing cards with her "governess".
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the end, all of the passengers get their revenge on Ratchett and get away scot free thanks to Poirot letting them go. However, they're such massive emotional train wrecks by the end of the ordeal that it doesn't feel like a fully earned victory for them, and even Poirot feels rattled by the affair. Even so, Poirot picks up his bags and is told of another case that needs to be solved, specifically on the Nile River. This can be summed up in Poirot's last words to the train passengers.
    Poirot: Ladies and gentlemen. I have understood in this case that the scales of justice cannot always be evenly weighed and I must learn for once to live with the imbalance. There are no killers here, only people who deserve a chance to heal. The police have accepted my first solution to the crime, the lone assassin who made his escape. I will leave the train here to conclude formalities. You are all free to go. May you find your peace with this. May we all.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Deconstructed. At the beginning of the movie, Poirot insists that "there is right, there is wrong and there is nothing in between." When he uncovers and confronts Ratchett's murderers, he admits to finding himself eating his earlier words in the face of said killers' compelling circumstances and especially their willingness to take the rap for each-other. Ultimately, he poses a Secret Test of Character to the killers, and the results convince him to lie to the police to protect them.
  • Blessed with Suck: Poirot believes his abilities to see lies amid truths is a curse.
  • Book Ends: Poirot begins and ends the movie being summoned by a British official to solve a murder and asking a British military officer to straighten his tie.
    • The movie also has two Oner shots: when Hercule first boards the train, the camera tracks him through the train windows as he moves through the compartments to his own. Then, towards the end of the movie, after he's solved the murder and is about the leave, the camera tracks his back as he walks through the compartments from his room to the exit.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Ratchet expresses disdain for Italians and uses racial slurs against a group of Italian gangsters he ripped off. It's later revealed his real name was John Cassetti, implying he himself was of Italian descent.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: It is Bouc who invokes Poirot's "little grey cells" line.
  • Broken Bird: Almost half the murderers actually.
    • First place has to go to Caroline Hubbard (aka Linda Arden) the mastermind. Watching her reveal the truth then pleading with Perot to let everyone else go shows how much her granddaughter and daughter’s death has affected her.
  • Busman's Holiday: Poirot only wanted to enjoy some fine cuisine abroad, until Bouc pleaded with him to solve the murder on the train.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Poirot, as to be expected. When we first meet him he is calmly about to eat breakfast, more concerned about the fact his eggs aren't the same size than the fact outside the city is on the verge of a riot.note 
  • Central Theme: What is justice?
  • Character Exaggeration: In the books, Poirot is very proud of his brains and quite vain about them, however he won't usually demonstrate that to suspects, as part of give them a false sense of security and appear only as a Funny Foreigner. That's expecially true in the case of this novel, where Poirot mostly stumble upon the case rather than being purposefully hired to solve it, hence the suspect don't even know or imagine who they are dealing with. In the movie, however, he challenges them directly while calling himself the greatest detective in the world.
  • Christianity is Catholic: The Priest in the opening isn't stated to be Catholic, but is wearing a biretta and cassock so probably is. While there has always been a Catholic presence in Jerusalem, most local Christians are Orthodox.
  • Composite Character: Dr. Constantine and Colonel Arbuthnot are combined into Dr. Arbuthnot.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Several in regards to the connections the passengers have to Ratchett. Subverted as they all were the murderers.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Poirot has a guard arm an entrance and sticks his cane in the Wailing Wall knowing where the policeman is going to bolt.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Bouc is introduced as a wealthy fop who can't be trusted to do more than entertain other wealthy people. But when Poirot dragoons Bouc into being his assistant, Bouc demonstrates a strong sense of morality and a willingness to leap into action when needed.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Count Andrenyi utterly demolishes an autograph seeker who tries to take his picture at the train station bar. Another photographer takes a photo of this, then smashes the camera himself when the Count shoots him a Death Glare.
  • Dance Battler: This version of Count Andrenyi is an acclaimed dancer. When someone tries to take his photograph, he retaliates by striking the photographer with a graceful and athletic spinning kick.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Much more so in the novel or the 1974 film; the passengers turn on each other even if it's all an act and are openly hostile to Poirot.
    • The train isn't just stuck in a snowdrift; part of it is derailed and is stuck on a trestle bridge, having narrowly avoided being swept off entirely by a full-scale avalanche.
    • At the end of the 1974 film, the cast is happy and relieved that the ordeal is over, and they toast being able to get away with (an admittedly justified) murder. Here, everyone involved is either exhausted, traumatized, or both. It will be a long time before they can recover, and everyone knows that, even if it was justified, they have still committed murder, and living with it will carry emotional scars.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Poirot as per usual, though MacQueen is no slouch himself.
    Poirot: Did he have any enemies?
    MacQueen: Pick a number.
  • Dead Star Walking: Johnny Depp as the murder victim.
  • Death by Childbirth: After hearing that her daughter Daisy was dead, the pregnant Sonia Armstrong went into labour, and neither her nor her baby survived the ordeal.
  • Death Seeker: Princess Dragomiroff states that after Daisy's murder, Linda Arden was an empty shell. Linda herself confirms this.
    Linda: I already died with Daisy.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: "Never Forget", the song that plays over the end credits, was co-written by Kenneth Branagh and performed by Michelle Pfieffer.
  • Dream Sequence: In a Deleted Scene, Poirot has a waking daydream thinking about the clues of the case, ending with Count Andrenyi about to punch Poirot out in first person.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Colonel Armstrong took his own life in grief after all of his close family were gone.
    • Susanne, the girl accused of kidnapping the baby Daisy, took her life before she could be acquitted.
    • Linda Arden attempts to do this when Poirot challenges her to kill him and she turns the gun on herself; it doesn't work because the gun is empty.
  • Empathic Environment: The trailers show a snow storm brewing as the passengers begin to feel the pressure of the investigation. The murder itself takes place during a thunderstorm.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • They come in a flurry for Poirot in the opening sequence. There's the mustache, which is an Establishing Character Moment all by itself. Then there's his insistence on getting two boiled eggs that are exactly the same size for breakfast. (He measures with a ruler.) When Poirot goes out and steps in shit, he deliberately steps in it with the other shoe so they are evened out. Then, after evening out the poop on his shoes, he solves the theft of an important religious artifact.
    • Ratchett threatens Masterman with a gun after ordering him to do various tasks.
    • Estravados punches out a man that touches her rear and later says that drinking is a sin.
    • Hubbard talks incessantly to a clearly annoyed Poirot.
    • Hardman expresses disgust at sitting near Arbuthnot.
    • Dragomiroff coldly refuses several rooms offered to her.
    • Dr. Arbuthnot yells at the crew of the malfunctioning boat that he has a patient to see, realizes they don't speak English and then goes to help fix the boat.
    • Count Andrenyi beats up several photographers.
    • Marquez tips a worker and tells them to put a good word in for Americans.
    • Bouc admits that he likes Poirot because he doesn't judge him for being a horrible man.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Arbuthnot only grazes Poirot with a pistol at point blank range despite being a sharpshooter during World War I, Poirot realizes that while he's a murderer, he's putting on an act.
  • Everybody Did It: An adaptation of the Trope Maker, of course. The true killer of Ratchett is all of the other passengers on the train, all save Poirot and Monsieur Bouc being in on the conspiracy to kill him in the first place.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Hubbard seemingly invokes this during her conversation with Ratchett, rebuffing his advances with a thinly-veiled veneer of disgust, seemingly seeing right through him despite her husband-hunting nature. Of course, it is eventually revealed that she and Ratchett have a far more personal connection.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: The film is an adaptation of the trope namer after all. It's even one of the film's taglines.
    Poirot: If there was a murder, then there was a murderer. The murderer is with us, and every one of you is a suspect.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Poirot wanders around outside (and in one case on top of) the derailed train in the middle of winter, in the Alps, and yet seems to feel no need for a coat, even when the other characters are well wrapped up. He only dons a coat for the culmination of the plot.
  • Frame-Up: In the Action Prologue taking place in Jerusalem, an priceless relic from the Church of the Holy Sepulcre is stolen and the main suspects are three holy men representing Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Who is the real culprit? None of them, they are innocent. It was the chief of police that had them set up and stole the relic.
  • Food Porn: Poirot waxes lyrical over the delights of a Turkish bakery that meets his exact standards of perfection.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the beginning of the movie, Poirot tells the police officer his philosophy, "There is right and there is wrong; there is no in-between." This sets up his character arc where he has to learn that right and wrong are not as black and white as they appear. Sure enough, the movie ends with Poirot sadly realizing the true culprit (or culprits) fall somewhere between right and wrong.
    • Ratchet nodding off then snapping awake on the night he is to be murdered may seem like a case of not being able to sleep easy because of the threatening notes he's been receiving. But later, it turns out he was drugged.
    • Also when Michel checks on Ratchett, we hear him say in perfect French "It's nothing". It's already been established he's not fluent in French. In reality, the murderer was speaking for him to make it sound like he was still alive at the time.
    • When Poirot is taking charge of the case, all of the passengers are broken reflections in the train's mirrors. It's a visual cue that indicates they're all broken and guilty.
    • A two-fold example. Dr. Arbuthnot is an expert sharpshooter, yet when he holds Poirot at gunpoint after revealing himself as the murderer, he only grazes his arm despite having him dead to rights. Poirot later realizes Arbuthnot used his marksmanship skills to miss deliberately both so he could take the fall for the murders and because he can't bring himself to kill an innocent man. This also foreshadows the ending, where none of the murderers can bring themselves to kill the innocent Poirot despite the very real possibility he could have them convicted.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Poirot cackles while reading a book several times. Its title is only visible briefly on the night of the murder:A Tale of Two Cities.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Ratchett has a scar on his face. Pilar has one above her left cheek given to her when Ratchett slashed at her in Daisy's bedroom.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Count Andrenyi beats up paparazzi just for one taking pictures of him. When Poirot interrogates him later, he quickly loses his cool and starts to fight the detective, only for the Countess to comfort him. Poirot even lampshades it.
  • A Handful for an Eye: After being shot in the supply room, Poirot uses his walking stick to flick a handful of spilled flour into Arbuthnot's face.
  • Happier Home Movie: Colonel Armstrong is shown in flashback watching a home movie of his (now-dead) family before he commits suicide. Another flashback shows the murderers watching the same movie as they make their pact to kill Casetti.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Poirot has the maid of Princess Dragomiroff speak to him in German (Dutch in the German dub), so her employer can't understand and influence her answers.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: When called upon to solve the theft of a priceless jewel in Jerusalem, Poirot determines that the suspect is not the rabbi, priest, or imam... but the chief inspector of the case, "who I believe does now regret inviting me to consult on this case."
  • I Knew It!: Hubbard's verbatim reaction to finding out Ratchett was the infamous Cassetti. Of course she knew. invoked
  • Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress: The police inspector in the opening is clotheslined by Poirot's cane that he stuck in the wall earlier.
  • Informed Flaw: Bouc cheerfully describes himself as a "terrible person," apparently due to his womanizing and lack of personal ambition. In practice he's actually one of the most moral characters in the movie, which is evidenced by his being close friends with Poirot, who wouldn't associate with "terrible people" (eg. Ratchett): he goads Poirot into taking up the case to avoid a miscarriage of justice by pointing out that the Latino Marquez and the black Dr. Arbuthnot are the most likely passengers to be deemed the culprit by the police, and serves ably as a sidekick to Poirot even at risk to himself. He also took no part in Cassetti's murder. It's implied by Poirot in The Summation that Bouc would be willing to cover up the murders of Cassetti and Poirot to save himself, but as this is part of Poirot's Secret Test of Character, it's likely untrue.
    • Granted, this probably a case of self-deprecation and Values Dissonance. In today's world, concern with systematic racism is a good a thing, and even the employment of sex workers is no big deal if he's not abusive to them. (And it seems he's not) But but for a 1930's gentleman, he acts quite "improper". Poirot is not exactly progressive, but he's seen a lot of lowlifes among the rich and powerful, so Bouc's quirks hardly faze him, and his lack of hypocrisy might even be refreshing.
  • Infraction Distraction: Used to create Red Herrings to further muddy the waters. Mary refuses to answer Poirot's questions, but it's implied she's covering for an interracial affair with Arbuthnot. Hector tries to destroy evidence that he was embezzling from his employer.
  • Insufferable Genius: Poirot as usual, is not modest about his intellectual prowess in the slightest.
    Hardman: And who are you?
    Poirot: My name is Hercule Poirot, and I am probably the greatest detective in the world.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Following Poirot's Leave Behind a Pistol moment, Mrs Hubbard takes the pistol and tries to commit suicide, only to discover the gun is unloaded.
  • It's All About Me: Caroline Hubbard's reaction to hearing that a passenger was murdered is to insist that she heard someone rummaging through her cabin and seethe at the other passengers for not listening to her. It's all an act, trying to maintain the illusion there was only one murderer.
  • It's All My Fault: Pilar Estravados blames herself for Daisy's kidnapping and death because she had a few drinks of wine the night her charge was kidnapped; so she swore off drinking and became a missionary in penance.
  • Jerkass: Ratchett proves himself to be rude, pushy, and demanding of the people around him. And this is before we learn about the nastier parts of his character.
  • Just a Flesh Wound: A "Eureka!" Moment for Poirot when former military marksman Arbuthnot grazes him in the upper arm at point blank range, especially since he's a doctor as well. Poirot realizes he meant to miss, and was the only one who could stab Hubbard in the back without injuring her seriously.
  • Just Train Wrong:
    • The Orient Express is pulled by a heavily modified SNCF Class 241 during the whole course of the movie. While the train goes through Turkey and Yugoslavia the locomotive never changes. This would be not possible due to regulations at the time. During the trip of the Orient Express the locomotive would have been changed on every border crossing.
    • The Class 241 was built from 1948 to 1952, but the movie takes place in 1934.
    • When they are boarding the Orient Express in Istanbul, the locomotive looks like a Württemberg C. While this is an accurate locomotive that actually pulled the Orient Express, the displayed locomotive number is fantasy. Also, none were sold to the Turkish State Railways.
  • Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand: Poirot gives this ultimatum to the conspirators after The Summation. It turns out to be a Secret Test of Character.
    Poirot: You wish to go free without punishment for your crime, then you must commit one more.
  • Large Ham: Johnny Depp is clearly having the time of his life as Ratchett, giving the character an over-the-top 1930s gangster voice.
  • "Last Supper" Steal: When seated in the tunnel during the Summation Gathering, the suspects are seated like Leonardo da Vinci's depiction of The Last Supper.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: After confronting the killer, Poirot places a pistol on the table in front of them and turns his back, telling them that if they wish to go free, they need only shoot him and consign his body to the lake. Mrs Hubbard takes the pistol, but tries to commit suicide with it.
  • Leitmotif: The scenes of Col. Armstrong and his family (and their survivors in one scene) is a Lonely Piano Piece rendition of "Never Forget", sung during the credits.
  • The Lost Lenore: Poirot constantly talks to a photo of a woman named Kathrine and mentions and it's implied that she was his lover who died All of the murderers (except McQueen) lost someone close to them during The Armstrong Case.
  • Man Behind the Man: Hubbard (actually Linda Arden) planned the murder and got everyone together for it.
  • May–December Romance: Hardman and the maid Susanne had feelings for each other, and he acknowledged the age gap between them.
  • Monochrome Past: Flashback sequences are filmed in grayscale. This is especially notable with the final flashback sequence, which is an extended flashback of the entire murder.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: The Orient Express derails in the alps between Vinkovci and Brod in modern day Croatia. In reality this area is flat farmland with nary an alp in sight.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • At the very end of the movie a British army officer comes to collect Poirot at the train station, as his services are urgently required in Egypt...
      Officer: There's been a murder sir... right in the bloody Nile!
    • Additionally, Pilar Estravados is the name of a character in Hercule Poirot's Christmas.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Well, Obfuscating Blonde Ditziness, anyway. Hubbard acts like a man-eating Gold Digger, but it's all an act by Linda Arden, who isn't even blonde. It helps that she's an actress playing the part of a blonde Motor Mouth.
  • Obsessively Organized: Poirot, "see(s) the world how it should be." Imperfections stick out in his mind glaringly so. He admits that it makes most of his life unbearable, but works wonders for his profession.
  • Obviously Evil: Ratchett has a scar over one eye, a nice suit, a mustache, and talks like a gangster. It's no surprise that he turns out to not be a nice man.
  • Of Corset Hurts: In a Deleted Scene, it's revealed Hercule wears a very tight corset, which explains why he doesn't appear as rotund as he should.
  • The Oner: The most noticeable would be Poirot boarding the train and making his way to his cabin, which includes practically the entire cast.
    • After he solves the murder and is about the leave the train, the camera tracks Poirot once again as he walks from his own compartment to the dining cart, but this time from another angle.
  • Orgy of Evidence: As with the original book, the murder scene has a plethora of Red Herrings — Poirot deduces only the notepad has any worthy evdience.
  • Orient Express: The setting of the murder (obviously) is the Orient Express train.
  • Outof Character Alert: Dr. Arbuthnot is an expert sharpshooter and a compassionate doctor dedicated to his job. When he holds Poirot at gunpoint - seemingly to kill him to cover up killing Casseti - he's only able to graze Poirot's arm and shows no remorse. Poirot realizes Arbuthnot missed deliberately because he was hoping to serve as the fall guy for the murder and because he can't bring himself to kill an innocent man - indeed, during the climax he refuses to kill Poirot even if it's the only way to save his fellow murderers' skin.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: What happens tragically to the Armstrong family. Daisy, after being kidnapped, is found murdered. Her mother dies from premature labor, along with her unborn child and later, Armstrong commits suicide due to what happened. Linda Arden effectively lost her granddaughter, daughter and son-in-law and is driven to kill the man who did this.
  • Poirot Speak: Frequently spoken by the Trope Namer himself. English isn't Poirot's native tongue so he occasionally get words and grammar mixed up, especially when it comes to colloquialisms. For instance, when confronting MacQueen about stealing from Ratchett, he asks Bouc what is the English word for chocolat, and finally declares that MacQueen's books are "full of fudge!" i.e. he has fudged the numbers.
  • Politically Correct History: Played with. While the movie takes care to acknowledge the effects that the various race lifts would have in the characters' circumstances, and several other characters make some horrible yet period appropriate racist comments; a lot of it is revealed to be an act as all the passengers are a lot more open minded about race than someone in 1934 could be expected to be. Poirot comments to Mary that they are not in America, and she doesn't have to hide her romantic relationship with Abuthnot.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Perhaps more so than other adaptations, Cassetti's murderers get away with the crime because Casetti was a scumbag who deserved what happened to him, but it is clearly a hollow victory for them, all of them are disturbed by the murder, (justified or not, they will carry the knowledge that they committed homicide to their graves) and of course, even Casetti's death will not bring back any of the loved ones he took from them or undo any of the damage he did to their lives. No one really comes out of the experience better off for it.
  • Race Lift:
    • The Greek Dr. Constantine is now the black Dr. Arbuthnot.
    • The Swedish missionary is now a Spanish missionary Pilar Estravados.
    • The Italian Antonio Foscarelli is now the Cuban-American Biniamino Marquez.
    • The Caucasian Pierre Michel is being played by Tunisian actor Marwan Kenzari, although the character is still stated to be French.
    • The American Cyrus Hardman is now an Austrian professor. Subverted, as he is actually an American Detective, who is claiming to be an Austrian Professor.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: When confronting the suspects in his summation, Poirot cocks the hammer on the revolver he took from Hardman and gestures with it, though not as exaggeratedly as some examples. Turns out he unloaded it beforehand.
  • Red Herring: A complicated example with Dr. Arbuthnot. Near the end of the film, he seems to be the culprit, as he shoots Poirot in the shoulder while Poirot is accusing Mary, and then Dr. Arbuthnot outright confesses to the murder, giving a speech about how much Cassetti deserved to die, and then he outright attacks Poirot. But it turns out that while he is in fact a culprit, he's not the culprit, as he was only one of many people to stab the victim.
  • Remittance Man: Bouc cheerfully admits to being one, saying that his uncle pays him large sums of money wining and dining wealthy customers on the Orient Express on the sole condition that he doesn't come near the home office.
  • The Reveal:
    • The true killer of Ratchett is all of the other passengers on the train, all save Poirot and Monsieur Bouc being in on the conspiracy to kill him in the first place.
    • Caroline Hubbard is actually Linda Arden, and the ringleader of the group.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Ms. Hubbard following and chatting with Poirot when he first boards the train is seen as a woman trying to flirt with him and is perhaps a bit drunk. She is actually Linda Arden and is the mastermind of the murder, therefore she is trying to figure out the new arrival she did not plan for.
    • When Mary sees Poirot at the station, she asks if he would be joining them. Watch her expression when Poirot indicates he may be. She is thrown off because no one had planned for an additional passenger on the train, let alone a famous detective like Poirot.
    • Rewatch the scene when Poirot enters the train while Ms. Hubbard is talking with him. Almost all the conspirators shown are watching Poirot as he walks by.
    • MacQueen is dismayed and a bit annoyed when he finds out that Poirot will be bunking with him instead of a Mr. Harris. It's because "Mr. Harris" is fictional and the conspirators faked a reservation so no one not in on their scheme would be on the train.
      • Later, Michel graciously relocates MacQueen so Poirot could have the cabin to himself. Michel did it so MacQueen was bunked with someone who was in on the plan to cover for him.
    • The conversation between Ms. Hubbard and Ratchett take on a different meaning once you know that she knows she is talking to the man who murdered her granddaughter and indirectly caused the deaths of her daughter and her son in law.
    • After the murder occurs, everyone is deeply suspicious of everyone else, shooting each other nervous looks. It's not because they think someone is the murderer but because they were worried that one of them may crack and expose what they all did to Poirot.
    • When finding out the train is delayed, many start complaining of the inconvenience until Estravados gives a rather intense speech about God and how they are not necessarily entitled to reach their destination on time. Everyone looks a bit uncomfortable afterwards, seemingly unsettled by her religious devotion. With The Reveal that all of them were in on the murder, Estravados's words is actually hitting them that they killed a man with the possibility that they may not be as justified as they think and there is a good chance they will get caught or answer for their crime in some way.
    • Some lines from Estravados actually hint at her past. She talks about how she no longer drink, how drinking is a sin and she is now a light sleeper because she was "surprised" once. She was Daisy's nanny and she had been drinking and had fallen asleep the night Casetti kidnapped Daisy and couldn't stop him.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Subverted. The suspects ride off into the sunset on the Express as Poirot watches (before he embarks to his next case.)
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The original novel based the Daisy Armstrong case after the Lindbergh kidnapping, another incident of a famous child being abducted and later found murdered, despite payment of the ransom. This film goes even further, referring to Colonel Armstrong as a famous aviator.
  • Sad Clown: Caroline Hubbard/Linda Arden turns out to be this. She may act like a petty husband-hunter with a Motor Mouth, but that's all it is, an act. It's meant to throw off what a tragic, broken-hearted woman she is, after losing her daughter and granddaughter.
  • Saying Too Much: MacQueen, when Poirot reveals Ratchett has died.
    MacQueen: So they got him after all.
    Poirot: You assume he was killed?
    MacQueen: No, no, no. Not...well, he was in perfectly good health. He had his enemies.
  • The Scapegoat: Invoked — M. Bouc persuades Poirot to take the case when he points out that the local police will likely pin the murder on either Mr. Marquez or Dr. Arbuthnot, for no other reason than because one of them is Cuban and the other is black.
  • Scenery Porn: Haris Zambarloukos' work is absolutely scrumptious. The snowy pass is glorious, and the shots of the train departing Istanbul must be seen to be believed.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Poirot turns down a hefty fee just to guard Ratchett during his train journey. Given that he's being threatened for selling phony antiques to The Mafia, Poirot has no interest in protecting a rogue from his own criminal acts.
  • Secret Test of Character: After Poirot gives his summation, he offers the chance for the guilty to kill him to preserve their secret. Mrs. Hubbard takes his gun, but instead of shooting Poirot, she turns it on herself to commit suicide... only to find out it was a bluff on his part and the gun was empty. This is enough to convince Poirot that the guilty do deserve a second chance instead of eleven people being hanged for the murder of one man.
  • Sequel Hook: The film ends with Poirot being summoned to investigate a murder in Egypt, "right on the bloody Nile". (Sure enough, the box-office success of this film led the studio to announce that Branagh would return as Poirot in a new version of Death on the Nile.)
  • A Shared Suffering: The eleven killers are portrayed as being quite loyal to each-other in this adaptation. They all come from a variety of different backgrounds and social classes and they all met or knew the Armstrongs under different circumstances, yet their shared intention to exact their own brand of justice on Ratchett for the Armstrongs has brought them all together.
  • Sherlock Scan: A little tweak on the Poirot character, who in this movie is wont to make observations based on minute details a-la Sherlock Holmes. (He figures out one character is an impersonator based on a mispronunciation of "Turin", though since Poirot is Belgian, he's very familiar with German accents.)
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Mary gets in a nice one against Professor Hardman as he spouts racist rhetoric supporting the separation of races. However, given the revelation that they are all accomplices, this is most likely a subversion, since they may have planned such an interaction:
    Hardman: It is out of respect for all kinds that I prefer to keep them separate. To mix your red wine and the white. would be to ruin them both.
    (Mary pours a glass of white wine into her red wine)
    Mary: I like a good rosé!
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Neither the Countess Andrenyi nor Michel the conductor appear in the trailer despite being suspects. M. Bouc doesn't appear physically but we hear his voice. They all appear in the second trailer, though. Marquez, while briefly glimpsed, is not even on the suspect list; however, he does get his own character poster.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Ratchett has his coffee spiked with barbital before he is murdered. When Poirot sniffs the coffee cup he remarks "a mickey has been slipped".
  • Spanner in the Works: Poirot's presence on the train was not anticipated by Ratchet's murderer. However, the bigger spanner was the train being stuck in a snowdrift.
  • Spiteful Spit: When Poirot tells Princess Dragomiroff that the victim was Ratchett,she immediately spits at the ground venomously.
  • Spoiler Opening: There was an alternate opening shot and edited for the film, showing Colonel Armstrong watching the home movies of his wife and Daisy, while a Newsreel was shot of the Armstrong Case, with Linda Arden being revealed to be Michele Pfeiffer's character.
  • Stock Schtick: Discussed; when presenting the three suspects for the theft in Jerusalem at the beginning, Poirot notes with amusement that they happen to be a priest, a rabbi and an imam.
    Poirot: You will forgive me, I am Belgian.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: All of them, as almost everyone stabbed the victim except Poirot and Monsieur Bouc, and the culprits were avenging different people, albeit people all harmed by the one act of murder that Mr. Ratchett committed through one way or another. To be brief: Caroline (actually Linda Arden), Pilar, Mary, Hildegarde, and Natalia were avenging Daisy (though Natalia was avenging the entire Armstrong family as well); Elena (actually Helena Goldberg) was avenging her sister Sonia Armstrong (though rather than stabbing the victim she had her husband do it); Pierre and Gerhard were avenging the falsely accused maid; Hector was avenging his district attorney father who was ruined by accusing the wrong suspect; and Edward, Dr. Arbuthnot, and Biniamino were avenging John Armstrong.
  • Tae Kwon Door: The Professor knocks out the Count by slamming the compartment door into him when the Count is attacking Poirot.
  • Take Me Instead: Linda Arden demands that since she was the mastermind of the plot, she alone should be arrested, and that she was the one who convinced good people to murder a man in cold blood. She proves she's more than willing to pay for her crimes by attempting to shoot herself with the pistol Poirot offers.
  • Take That!: A small, sly one— Hardman's fake Austrian cover persona makes some overtly Nazi-like statements.
  • Taking the Heat: When Poirot accuses Mary Debenham of the crime, Dr. Arbuthnot confesses to the crime himself, then apparently tries to kill Poirot. However the detective isn't fooled, realising that he's taking the fall for not just Mary, but everyone else. The attempted murder was just to make his confession seem more convincing.
  • The Teetotaler: Pilar Estravados refuses to drink wine, believing that indulging in "vices" would make her susceptible to the devil's influence. This is a cover; the true reason Pilar refuses to drink wine is because she was Daisy Armstrong's nurse, and was in the room with Daisy during the kidnapping, but was unable to stop the kidnapper because she had drunk wine at dinner, and Cassetti was able to surprise and overpower her; Pilar has blamed herself for what happened to Daisy ever since.
  • That Man Is Dead: Linda Arden tells Poirot that she died when Daisy did, and there's nothing left of her.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Poirot believes that no matter how much of an asshole Ratchett was, killing him was wrong. Though he decides not to reveal the truth about his murder in the end.
    Poirot: Every day we meet people the world would be better without, but we do not kill them. We must be better than the beasts.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Poirot struggles with this decision on whether to follow the law and turn in the murderers, or lie and let the now-avenged go free, eventually deciding on the latter.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Implied for everyone who died as a result of The Armstrong Case.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: An in-universe example. Professor Gerhard Hardman is rude, blunt, not-so-subtly racist and, it is implied, a Nazi. When he reveals his true identity as Cyrus Hardman, private investigator, he also reveals himself to be a lot more pleasant, mild-mannered and tolerant. And also Jewish.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Hercule Poirot's breakfast of choice is two hard-boiled eggs, but only if the two eggs are the same size.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The second trailer explicitly refers to Ratchett as the gangster.
  • Truer to the Text: While popularly depicted as having a small mustache in previous portrayals, the literary Poirot had an enormous one that would have put a walrus to shame. Here Kenneth Branagh sported a book-accurate mustache, only to discover why so many past portrayers had gone with a small one: it was a nightmare to maintain.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Bouc and the prostitute are looking for a place to "have a disagreement."
  • Vehicle Title: Named after the eponymous train.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Never explicitly stated, but a major theme. The conspirators (that is, basically everybody on the train) are all clearly broken people who murdered Cassetti out of grief and rage and it is evident that the experience has just been awful for each and every one of them.
  • Where da White Women At?: Mary is in a relationship with Dr. Arbuthnot. The stigma of such kind of relationship (especially in the 30's) is brought up by Poirot, who tells her not to worry about loving a black man since they're not in America.
  • Wham Line: For those who hadn't seen the source material, during The Summation.
    Poirot: A murder should only have one victim. When Ratchett kills Daisy Armstrong, a dozen lives are broken, deformed, ended, THEY DEMAND JUSTICE! Of all these wounded souls, we must finally answer — who among them is a killer? Who takes up the knife? The answer is... no single one of you could have done it. Nor any pair. It could have only be done... by all of you.
  • Wham Shot: Mrs. Hubbard aka Linda Arden removing her blonde wig to reveal mousy, brown hair, and a tired, haggard face. The glamorous widow is actually a grieving mother and grandmother who has been through far too much.
  • What You Are in the Dark: At the climax, Poirot indeed learns what Ratchet's killers are in the dark when he offers up the easy solution that they shoot him so their secret dies with him. None of them takes the gun and goes through with it. Linda takes the gun and starts aiming it at Poirot, but instead she tries to take her own life, recognizing she's the only one who must answer for the murder. Of course, it turns out the gun was never loaded.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Poirot is clipped by a bullet fired by a suspect who confesses to the crime, then tries to finish off Poirot, saying "Why aren't you dead yet?" Afterwards Poirot realises that's a fair question as the suspect is a marksman. He never intended to kill Poirot; he was Taking the Heat and wanted his confession to appear convincing.
  • You Know Too Much: Dr. Arbuthnot confesses to the crime then states, "A soldier kills to protect, and now Mr Poirot I must protect myself." A life-and-death struggle ensues, but it's subverted when Poirot realises that Dr. Arbuthnot wanted him to survive and think he was the sole killer.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Ratchett's valet, Masterman, is dying of a spreading thyroid cancer, and is expected to die in 11 months.

"I see evil on this train..."