Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Michael Green (Screenplay)
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leslie Odom Jr and Johnny Depp
Hercule Poirot is one of the most sought-after detectives in the world. Whilst on a much-needed break he finds himself being rushed back to Europe to solve a case. At the insistence of an old friend, he books passage aboard the Orient Express for what should be three days of first-class accommodations and relaxation. On the second evening, the train derails and one of the passengers is brutally murdered. This fateful interruption to Poirot’s peace thrusts him into a complex case which he must solve before the next stop.
Kenneth Branagh as a director has taken a more stylized approach to this film version. The first film adaptation was released in 1974, with an all-star cast featuring such names as Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, and Lauren Bacall. Taking full advantage of the technological advances since the 70’s this film has a glossy more stylish look. Shot on 70mm the images are high definition and allow for a riveting experience. Though visually appealing the film moves at an alarmingly slow pace and there is a woeful lack of action. Though this may be off-putting to some younger moviegoers anyone with an affection for classic cinema will find enjoyment in the unhurried pace. Fans of Christie will note a few differences to the characters as well as an Easter Egg or two. For instance, Penelope Cruz’s character is named Greta in the novel but Pilar Estravados in the film. Pilar is an homage to another of Christie’s works ” Hercule Poirot’s Christmas”.
Branagh as an actor breathes life into the oddly brilliant Poirot. The detective is a complex character with interesting quirks and an untold backstory, hints of which are sprinkled throughout the story. Through many of the tense moments of the investigation, Poirot caresses a photo of a young woman. No explanation is provided for this occasional tenderness and we were intrigued. The rest of the cast provide the backdrop for Branagh’s larger than life often comical interpretation of Poirot Though the film as a whole is a bit slow and not quite the thrill we expected, Detective Poirot is a fascinating character we would like to see more of.
“Murder on the Orient Express,” a 20th Century Fox release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “violence and thematic elements.” Running time: 114 minutes. Murder on The Orient Express hits theaters this Friday!