Coming into this, I didn’t read Agatha Christie’s book nor see the 1974 classic with Albert Finney and multiple Oscar nominations. Also I’m a huge fan of the director even on his middle of the road projects, so there might be a bit of a bias when looking over this. One thing’s for sure, it’ll always look great no matter what.
Kenneth Branagh stars behind and in front of the camera as world renowned detective, Hercule Poirot. Looking to enjoy some classic Dickens and dessert on the Orient Express, a passenger is murdered thrusting him back into the investigator life. With everyone as a suspect Hercule begins to connect the clues to deduce the culprit.
Branagh has always brought a grand scope to everything from the operatic city in Thor to the golden ballroom in Cinderella. In this tale the claustrophobic train walls and dangerous snowy climate contrast each other in making the vehicle more like a prison even with champagne and cakes. The dialogue quips are bullets served with a side of cynicism when locked in a room with nothing but total strangers to pass the time. The mystery and conclusion itself would make Scooby Doo jealous.
Of course the entire cast is great, especially Johnny Depp who’s more restrained than his recent slew of realistic drunken cartoon characters. However they end up serviceable second fiddle to Branagh and his Inspector Clouseau moustache because of the mystery aspect concealing their identity till later on. The ones who gets to stand out is Tom Batman, Daisy Ridley and Josh Gad. Everyone else is a decoration for this train edition of Clue. A few tossed in tense action sequences might also be an indication that there isn’t enough material to sustain a two hour whodunit guessing game. If anything Murder On the Orient Express is a decent take, but if you’ve read the book or seen the first movie, there might not be enough incentive to go back without succumbing to a power nap now and again.
Pros: Serviceable cast, first class production,
Cons: Overshadowed cast, not much material
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