Agatha Christie, Daisy Ridley, Derek Jacobi, Dunkirk, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Murder on the Orient Express, Olivia Colman, Penélope Cruz, Poirot, Willem Dafoe
From the novel by Agatha Christie, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh (Dunkirk, Wallander), Murder on the Orient Express follows Detective Poirot as he races to find a killer amongst 12 strangers aboard a stranded train.
Everyone has heard of Poirot – there have been various adaptions of Agatha Christie’s novels – and so this remake (for apparently there is an original film of the novel from 1974) was hugely anticipated. This was partly due to the incredible cast of actors involved, led by the great Kenneth Branagh who gives us his own unique portrayal of Poirot – complete with a ridiculous moustache! I can’t say I’ve ever really watched any of the other Poirot stuff but there has been a lot online about Branagh’s decision to change the moustache, and I have to admit it is very distracting! Branagh is known for his theatrical jobs and here we almost have a one man show for the film is entirely dominated by Poirot – I get that the film is about the detective but with such a great cast you’d think they would have shared out the airtime! Branagh does do a great job though, his portrayal gives us a character that is clearly very talented at solving mysteries, but we also see a sense of humour as well as a deep sadness for his lost love.
Alongside Branagh there is: Dame Judi Dench (James Bond, Philomena), Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean, Edward Scissorhands), Michelle Pfeiffer (Dangerous Liasions, Scarface), Penélope Cruz (Pirates of the Caribbean, Zoolander 2), Derek Jacobi (Last Tango in Halifax, Gladiator), Willem Dafoe (Spider-man, Finding Nemo), Olivia Colman (Broadchurch, The Night Manager), Josh Gad (Frozen, Beauty and the Beast) and Daisy Ridley (Star Wars). As you can see a very impressive cast and all give excellent performances but unfortunately are dominated by Branagh. I definitely think they should have used this impressive cast to their advantage and instead of wasting a lot of time at the beginning following Poirot as he begins his journey, the film should have got straight into the action on the train and given us more from the rest of the cast.
Visually, Murder on the Orient Express, is fantastic. There are some stunning shots of the train moving through the snow covered mountains – all CGI of course – and the various camera angles used throughout helped to keep you guessing as to who the killer was. I particularly liked the scene when the body is found, it was shot from above so all you see is the tops of the heads of the cast and it moves along the carriage as the characters move.
Overall, Murder on the Orient Express is a good film with a great cast, but for me it was a little bit boring. It takes ages for the characters to even get on the train, and Branagh has so many long speeches that at times my mind would wander – mainly to stare at his ridiculous moustache, which is a huge distraction! It’s not a film that I would be fussed about seeing again to be honest which is not really something I should be saying when it has a cast as great as this one does! Maybe I’m just the wrong demographic for the film, but if you don’t like Kenneth Branagh then you really won’t like this!