Sunday, January 28, 2018

Murder On the Orient Express Movie-review



     The 2017 Murder On The Orient Express film adaptation was a Kansas City Shuffle, both for the audience and for its central character, Hercule Poirot. Like A.C. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes character, Poirot is a private investigator who helps police solve particularly difficult criminal cases. The source material for the movie is a mystery novel of the same name by Agatha Christie published in 1934. The Kansas City Shuffle is the name of an old 20th century confidence game that depends on the mark suspecting that he is being conned, but not knowing exactly how or by whom. The Kansas City Shuffle is a con involving several operatives working together. They surrounding the mark in co-ordinated fashion to present him with a obviously fake con which, once the mark discovers it, will create a false sense of security and thus an end to his suspicion of being conned. This, in turn, allows the trap to snap shut just as the mark thinks he has outwitted the conmen. In the case of the novel, the reader looks over Poirot's shoulder and into his mind as his investigative method unfolds. There is one murder victim and twelve suspects. Aside from Poirot, no one is who they seem to be. They are all pretending to be random strangers on a train. In this case, Poirot comes up with a hypothetical reconstructed scenario that doesn't make sense. The fake con is an unsolvable murder that goes nowhere because of how the conspirators staged the crime scene with forensic evidence that was both contradictory and false. Poirot, being the Belgian equivalent to Sherlock Holmes, cracks the case anyway. His presence, with the possible exception of the Orient Express derailing due to extreme weather conditions, was the one variable that ended up unravelling the entire affair. Poirot's interference forced the conspirators to reshuffle their plan, but to no avail. The conspirators struggle to regain control of the con, but ultimately fail. Murphy's Law is compounded by the increasing complexity of anything with moving parts. More moving parts means more possible points of failure, like any machine. The pipe-cleaner, uniform-button, and handkerchief were supposedly placed in Ratchett's compartment for the police to find, and Poirot just happened to be on that particular train just then. Very inconvenient for the other passengers, but a plot necessity for this Agatha Christie tale. 

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