To apply an overused turn of phrase, good mystery stories are typically not about the destination, but rather the journey. Despite this, the ending should still be a satisfying reveal, or else the journey would’ve been for nothing. Unfortunately based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express could’ve been an okay film, had it not managed to fumble its way to a disappointing ending.
A crime-mystery thriller based on a bestselling novel about a detective hunting down Norway’s first serial killer sounds like an excellent film on paper. Adapting a novel that acts as an entry in a long-standing series of stories that’ve been described as “page-turning narratives featuring Norway’s own Sherlock Holmes” should be simple and straightforward. You’d think it’d be easy for a talented cast and crew featuring Martin Scorsese, Tomas Alfredson, and Michael Fassbender, among many others, to subvert the clichés of the crime-mystery genre and produce a competent and enjoyable film at the very least.
But they didn’t.
Few films ‘based on true events’ feel as ridiculously over the top as Doug Liman’s American Made (2017). Based on the life of pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), the film follows Barry as he becomes a CIA informant taking photographs of communist rebellion groups in Central America, starts smuggling cocaine for Pablo Escobar’s Medellín Cartel, and subsequently smuggles Russian guns to the Nicaraguan Contras on behalf of the United States Government. Let’s not forget that most of Barry’s bizarre smuggling career took place during then-President Ronald Reagan’s infamous “War on Drugs”. It sounds too comical to be true, and yet the story told by the film is closer to fact than it is to fiction.
In an industry abounding with repetitive sequels and generic copies, Edgar Wright’s summer 2017 film, Baby Driver, manages to stand out due to its unexpected premise and positive hype. A young driver, named Baby, constantly listens to music to drown out the noise caused by his hearing impairment. He works for a crime boss named Doc, played by Kevin Spacey, as a getaway driver during criminal heists to pay off a debt, but then he falls in love with a girl who could change everything. Sometimes, you just need a film to simply keep you entertained for about an hour and a half and Baby Driver does just that.