Murder on the Orient Express
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Written by Michael Green (novel by Agatha Christie)
Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Olivia Coleman, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jnr, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley.
In 1934, famous Belgian Detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) has just solved a case in Jerusalem, is resting in Istanbul, when he is called to London for another case. His close friend Bouc (Bateman) gets him an eleventh hour ticket aboard The Orient Express to his destination.
Moments after the train is derailed in heavy snow, he discovers that one of the passengers has been murdered, and now he must use his skills of deduction, who find out who killed the man.
Beginning on one of Poirot’s cases, it takes quite a while for the story to start, and when it does there are some quite genuine moments of excitement, but they infrequent and marred by slow pacing, and unnecessary dialogue.
There isn’t really anything outstanding in this film, and it has a largely impressive supporting cast – including several Oscar winners (Cruz, Coleman, and Dench) within the cast, who are given very little to do.
The rest are mostly left to the side-lines and some of them (such as Dafoe and Jacobi), barely get a whole scene to showcase not only their talents, but also give the audience a chance to understand who their character is – is quite disappointing.
One character is so forgettable, and lacks screen time that you forget that the actor was even in the film until the credits role. This is a disservice to the actor who play him, who have done great things in other roles.
One positive I will give the film however is how claustrophobic it feels at times, as the characters are trapped within the confines of this small space, we get several very up close and personal scenes while Poirot interviews suspects. Branagh also utilises his trademark long take on several occasions, which works well.
The movie feels as though it is quite self-indulgent of Branagh, as director he puts himself front and centre in almost every scene.
I didn’t love this film, but I didn’t hate it. It would be followed up by a sequel a couple of years later, Death on the Nile, which I have reviewed previously.