“Murder on the Orient Express” is a remake of the 1974 Albert Finney classic and, surprisingly, this is a competently made remake that does a fine job of staying true to the spirit of its original. But it doesn’t really add anything new to the material either.
Kenneth Branagh directs and also stars as Hercule Poirot, an eccentric Belgium detective who boards the Orient Express and is soon surrounded by some intriguing, mysterious individuals: Penelope Cruz as a missionary, Willem Dafoe as an Austrian professor, Judi Dench as a princess, Daisy Ridley as a governess, and Michelle Pfeiffer as another passenger.
Poirot also encounters a businessman by the name of Samuel Ratchett (Johnny Depp), who requests his protection because of death threats. Things go from bad to worse for both men as there’s a murder on the train and Poirot uses his sharp detective skills and eccentric nature to solve the crime.
If you expected anything different, you might be someone who doesn’t expect the ship to sink in “Titanic.”
Poirot conducts his investigation by interrogating each person on board and while he’s doing that, an avalanche blocks their path, leaving them stranded. Poirot is not having a good time.
Branagh features this cast delivering effective supporting work and it’s presided by some sensational production design. He has an eye for detail, more in the sets than in the actual plot, which doesn’t add anything new or exciting to previous adaptations.
Fans of the original, as well as Agatha Christie’s novel, may spot the huge twist at the end, as well as the motivations behind the characters, but Branagh delivers a film that has a lot of style and a cast that makes the best of their time on screen.
If only the plot was as engrossing in its execution as is the design, we would have had a remake that would be on par with its predecessors. As it is, it makes for a moderately entertaining diversion.
This express has a worthy destination.
Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.