Murder on the Orient Express (Mystery, Drama) [Based on Novel] (2017)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Michael Green, Agatha Christie (Based on Novel by)
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad
Shortly after solving a case in Jerusalem, famous detective Hercule Poirot is invited by his friend Monsieur Boec to accept a relaxing journey on his Orient Express. While travelling, the train makes an emergency stop due to an avalanche obstructing the rails and making matters worse, one of the passengers has been murdered, left without much choice. It’s up to detective Poirot to solve the case.
As an adaptation to the Agatha Christie novels, ‘’Murder on the Orient Express’’, written by Michael Green, is set to be the first in a series of films directed by actor and director Kenneth Branagh. Alongside the leading role played by Branagh himself comes an expansive cast of award-winning performers. Its been produced by Kinberg Genre, The Mark Gordon Company and Scott Free Productions. Distribution being handled by 20th Century Fox.
Originally based upon the Poirot novels by Christie, ‘’Murder on the Orient Express’’ isn’t just that. Using the novel’s character, it creates a murder mystery with comedic vibes and a ‘’Cluedo’’-like atmosphere. Locations like Jerusalem and Istanbul being used before at long last arriving at the train, it’s an adventure both to introduce those unfamiliar with the fictional detective and to tell the tale of one of Christie’s most-read novels.
While adequately performing the task of showing the sweet-toothed Belgian detective and his decree of perfectionism, there’s a multitude of moments, especially in this introductory section, where it seems to be approaching the likes of a family film. Certain comedic expressions by Poirot are accepted and serve the man and his visually striking moustache well. Yet, there is still this nagging feeling that it seems confused about what kind of film it intends to be in its entirety.
Something that undoubtedly improves the film is the aforementioned expansive cast, featuring the likes of Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, and Leslie Odom Jr., among others. While performances are theatrically exaggerated, it fits as well into the adventure as the appearance of the follically enhanced Branagh as Poirot. Almost every character is as notable and recognisable as a Colonel Mustard or a Mrs Peacock. As time goes on and screen-time is given to each of the eccentric passengers, there is this struggle of tapping into each actor/actress’s talent, lacking enough time to develop them besides their defined character traits, not only does this harm the film overall, it also hurts the viewer’s ability to gather crumbs of intelligence and attempt to solve the mystery at hand.
With time, the film gets more severe and personal, including branches of backstory featuring the Armstrong family and a murder that happened in days gone by. It is still an entertaining film, one I hoped I could’ve truly loved, yet the time it takes to arrive at this station and the lack of much intrigue and wit create a project that has been hog-tied on its way to an unsatisfying and anti-climactic conclusion.
Nobody likes delayed trains.