Murder on the Orient Express has once again been brought back to life, this time with Kenneth Branagh both at the helm as director and as Poirot. Supported by an impressively strong cast, the film is packed with potential but somehow stumbles to deliver any kind of impact.
The opening scenes in which Poirot is introduced are lacklustre, with him resolving a crime that fails to create any real interest or amusement. As soon as the ensemble cast are introduced things begin to rattle along at a much faster pace, with everyone seemingly enjoying the opportunity to be overly-theatrical and, for the most part, it’s all very good fun.
Branagh does a good job of bringing back the character of Poirot (the moustache is so mesmerising on the big screen that it should have its own credit), and it’s clear that this is a role that he takes very seriously. However, Depp once again fails to make any real impression and it’s left to the likes of Pfeiffer and Gad to lift the ensemble out of mundanity.
It’s difficult to build suspense in a film where half of the audience already know the ending, but even for those new to the story, there’s still some tension lacking. The ‘big unveil’ doesn’t have any kind of shock-factor and is ultimately very hammy, but then, so is much of this film. That’s not to say it’s not entertaining, because it most certainly is, but for a murder-mystery there isn’t very much suspense.
Having had so many previous incarnations, whether or not Murder on the Orient Express is a story that is worth reviving once again is questionable. It’s a strong effort that unfortunately lacks punch and seems unsure of exactly what it’s supposed to be. This is an enjoyable two hours, but unfortunately, not very much else.
CAST: Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp
DIRECTOR: Kenneth Branagh
WRITERS: Michael Green (screenplay by), Agatha Christie (based upon the novel by)
SYNOPSIS: A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery. From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers & one man’s race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.