Murder on the Orient Express

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Murder on the Orient Express Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Colorful, thoughtful, classical mystery has some violence.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 114 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 40 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Argues that there's more to life than simply right and wrong, or black and white -- there are sometimes human factors to consider in between. (In other words, people shouldn't be so quickly judged.) Sometimes the heart needs to be used instead of the head. Addresses racism and cultural discrimination in an encouraging way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hercule Poirot, like Sherlock Holmes, is fascinating and very cool. He's extremely bright, and he grasps everything. But at the same time, he seems like a sad man, suffering from untold losses. He spends most of his time alone, and he seems locked into a very rigid way of thinking. His intelligence and skill are inspiring, but he's probably not someone to emulate in the long run. Most of the other characters aren't on screen long enough to be well-developed, but all have flaws and questionable motivations. Some diversity within the cast.


Guns are shown; fired once. A corpse shown with a blood-covered shirt. Minor bleeding wound. Stabbing. Knife sticking out of a character's back. Flashbacks to a child kidnapping; verbal descriptions of awful deaths. Brief fighting, punching, kicking. Brief chasing, falling. A man crashes into an obstacle and falls.


A man is with a prostitute; she's referred to by that term. Mild innuendo, flirting.


"Damn," "hell," "goddamn." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink socially on the train. One character's hands shake; the character seems to "need" a drink more than the others. Smoking. A character takes lots of Barbital (a barbiturate) and seems to be an addict. (Later she's shown dumping the bottles down the drain.) Reference to being "slipped a Mickey."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Murder on the Orient Express is based on Agatha Christie's classic novel. Kenneth Branagh both directs and stars as iconic detective Hercule Poirot; the rest of the star-studded cast includes Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, and more. It's a murder mystery, so you can expect violence: Guns are shown (and fired once), and there's a little blood (mostly dried, on a corpse), plus a minor stabbing and some fighting and chasing. There's a verbal description of a terrible crime, the kidnapping and death of a child. Language is very minor -- nothing stronger than "damn." A prostitute is shown and referred to in one scene, and there's a bit of flirting and innuendo. Characters drink alcohol socially on the train, and one of them appears to "need" a drink more than the others (his hands shake). Another character takes a barbiturate called Barbital and seems to be addicted. Characters smoke. The film is smart, colorful, and entertaining in a classical way, which means it may feel a little old-fashioned to some. Christie's book was previously adapted into a film in the 1970s.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRolando M. November 18, 2017

no cursing and nudity like the movies we see now

Great movie with nice views and a refreshing no F word or obsceneties.
Adult Written byimisstherainstz November 20, 2017

Beautiful movie experience

A breath-taking and emotional cinematic experience that delivers a thoroughly satisfying drama. Although most kids will not likely find it interesting, as the m... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byHi XD November 23, 2017

Definitely one of the best movies of watched

When i first read the Book i immediately fell in love with it, The story follows a very well-thought and original timeline that makes it unique, Very Suspensefu... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byelijah batz November 9, 2017

Fantastic, but I don't think kids will care about it.

I'm 16 years of age and I was the youngest in the theater. Not that this movie was rated R or it was super disturbing, but it was just not in the demograph... Continue reading

What's the story?

In MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, master detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) has just solved a case in Jerusalem and is looking forward to a vacation. Unfortunately, he's summoned to another case in London and must board the Orient Express. A boorish passenger, Ratchett (Johnny Depp), whose business appears shady, tries to hire Poirot for protection. Next thing anyone knows, Ratchett has been murdered, and there's a whole train car full of suspects. Poirot interviews them one by one, including Ratchett's secretary (Josh Gad), his valet (Derek Jacobi), a society lady (Michelle Pfeiffer), a princess (Judi Dench), a professor (Willem Dafoe), a governess (Daisy Ridley), a doctor (Leslie Odom Jr.), and a missionary (Penelope Cruz). But the more Poirot learns, the less the clues seem to add up; they even seem to contradict one another. He comes to realize that this case will lead him to question everything he knows.

Is it any good?

Branagh calls on his finest classical directing skills to make this smart, old-fashioned murder mystery into an enjoyable, great-looking entertainment, with an ensemble cast to die for. Based on the novel by Agatha Christie, Branagh's colorful, fluid Murder on the Orient Express is a worthy companion to the book's previous big-screen adaptation, Sidney Lumet's 1974 version. Best of all, Branagh directs himself in the role of the famous detective Poirot, and it's as natural a fit as his outings as Henry V and Hamlet were. Branagh finds a fascinating emotional center to the character, a certain kind of pain that drives him, rather than just being really smart. (Plus he has an amazing mustache.)

The movie takes place in a single location, but Branagh's camera moves gracefully through the narrow corridors; he never constricts or tightens for suspense purposes. He goes outside, or above, or wide, to bring all the characters together on a human level. (He also uses mirrors and windows to fascinating effect.) This isn't a traditional murder mystery, in that it's not particularly suspenseful or thrilling. Rather, it's content and mature enough to explore the reasons behind it all, to find the soul of the thing. This is a movie aimed at viewers who have a little bit of patience and who don't mind a little bit of the way things used to be.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Murder on the Orient Express's violence. How much is actually shown? What's the impact of the violence that's not shown? Is this thrilling or shocking?

  • How does the movie depict drinking and drugs? Are they glamorized? Do any of the characters appear to be addicts? What indicates that?

  • What does the movie have to say about racism and discrimination? Which characters appear to be intolerant of characters from other cultures? How are they treated by others?

  • Like Poirot, do you believe that there are simple, black-and-white solutions for every problem? Why or why not?

  • Why do you think author Agatha Christie and her character Hercule Poirot have such enduring appeal?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrillers and mysteries

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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