By Australian Council on Children and the Media
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Murder on the Orient Express movie still image (c) Twentieth Century Fox
© Twentieth Century Fox
This movie at a glance Move mouse over icons to see their meaning
  • Recommended for mature audiences
  • Not recommended for children under 13
  • Parental guidance for children under 15
  • Suitable for children over 15
  • Contains violence and scary scenes
  • Contains frightening scenes
Genre Crime, drama, mystery
Length 114 minutes
Release Date 09/11/2017


Murder on the Orient Express is set in 1934. Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is travelling from Istanbul to London on the Orient Express as a guest of the train company’s owner, Bouc (Tom Bateman). The train is full of amazing characters including Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley) and Doctor Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jnr), both of whom Poirot met in Istanbul. Other guests on the train include the obvious villain Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp), his assistant Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad), Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench) and her assistant Hildegarde (Olivia Colman), the missionary Pilar (Penelope Cruz), wealthy American socialite Caroline Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Professor Hardman (Willem Dafoe).

Not long into the journey, one of the characters is found murdered in a cabin and Poirot is called on to investigate the crime. The train is held up by an avalanche, which derails it for some time, during which Poirot sorts through the complexities of the case. It seems that a recent crime has a strong bearing on the case. This crime involved the abduction and murder of a young girl who was taken from her crib and later found dead in the woods, and it’s mysteriously linked to all the passengers on the train. Poirot must discover which one of them is the murderer.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.

Murder; kidnapping of a child; revenge

Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.

Murder on the Orient Express has some violence. For example:

  • Guards point a gun at a man accused of theft, who then tries to escape, pushing people over and causing chaos.
  • A man pinches a woman on the bottom, and she hits him with her handbag.
  • A violent character attacks two men, punching and kicking them.
  • Ratchett threatens Poirot with a gun.
  • The victim is shown covered in blood on the bed.
  • MacQueen tries to get away and climbs down a high wooden bridge structure. Poirot chases him, and MacQueen crashes through the bridge and falls to the ground.
  • Caroline Hubbard is seen with a knife in her back, and the doctor has to pull it out.
  • The violent character attacks Poirot, but then Professor Hardman arrives pointing a gun.
  • Arbuthnot shoots Poirot in the arm.
  • Caroline Hubbard tries to shoot herself, but the gun isn’t loaded.
  • Several characters are shown stabbing someone with a knife, but the victim isn’t shown.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
Children in this age group will be scared by the violent scenes from Murder on the Orient Express mentioned above.

From 5-8
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Murder on the Orient Express has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • The story of the child’s abduction and killing is likely to scare children in this age group. Poirot tells this story and it’s also shown in flashback.
  • When the avalanche hits the train, several people fall out of bed and the train is derailed.

From 8-13
In addition to the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above, Murder on the Orient Express has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example, suicide is mentioned several times, and Caroline Hubbard tries to shoot herself.

Over 13
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Sexual references

Murder on the Orient Express includes some sexual innuendo.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Murder on the Orient Express shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Characters drink at dinner and at the bar on the train. MacQueen drinks constantly from a hip flask.
  • Several characters smoke.
  • One character is addicted to barbiturates.

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

Murder on the Orient Express has some coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Murder on the Orient Express is the latest movie based on the original Agatha Christie novel. It’s a murder mystery set aboard the legendary train. The main message from this movie is that people are not always who they seem to be. The scenery and cinematography are visually beautiful, and the stellar cast also carries this movie, which deviates only slightly from the original story.

Unlike the 1974 movie of this name, which was rated PG, this new version is rated M. Because of its violence, and scary scenes and themes, it isn’t recommended for children under 13. We also recommend parental guidance for children aged 13-15 years.

This movie could give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the death of a loved one and the desire to seek justice.

  • Last Reviewed 2017-11-17