Murder on the Orient Express

I was 10 or 11 when I saw the 1974 original Agatha Christie (from her 1934 novel) movie Sidney Lumet directed. I never saw the 2001 TV movie with Alfred Molina. Luckily I didn’t remember who did it in this whodunit. That certainly helps in the enjoyment of the film.

Kenneth Branagh is no Lumet, but he’s a decent director, and he straps on the huge mustache to get in front of the camera as detective Hercule Poirot. It’s amazing to think that you have Johnny Depp in a movie and he’s not the one with the weird accent and huge ‘stache. Perhaps after the disaster that was Mordecai…that wasn’t ever considered.

The amazing cast includes Tom Bateman as the philandering Bouc, Daisy Ridley as Miss Mary Debenham, Leslie Odom Jr. is Dr. Arbuthnot, Ms. Hubbard is played by Michelle Pfeiffer, and there are Oscar nominees Judi Dench and Penelope Cruz. The two best performances were from Josh Gad as McQueen and Willem Dafoe as Hardman.

When Hercule Poirot boards the Orient Express, he’s soon propositioned by Ratchett (Depp). He feels he needs some protection because people want him dead. Well, he ends up dead, and when an avalanche strands the travelers’ train on a bridge…Poirot has no choice but to investigate the murder.

The visuals were nice; whether that was a train design that looked like the epitome of luxury for the time — rich curtains, brass railings and a fully stocked bar. Other times it was sun shining through a tunnel, or wonderfully shot snowy landscapes, courtesy of cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos (Cinderella, Thor).
The film needed a bit more humor and playfulness and the whole affair felt a tad dated. A few times it also felt slow. Not sure if this generation is going to care for that type of murder mystery.

2 ½ stars out of 5.