Kenneth Branagh brings us this new adaptation of the classic Agatha Christie story centered around the legendary detective Hercule Poirot and a murder on a train. Boasting a star-studded cast and the most incredible mustache in movie history, I was excited to sit down and enjoy a murder mystery film, a genre rarely delved into these days.
The first thing to note is that Kenneth Branagh is the star of this film both behind and in front of the camera. His Poirot is so thoroughly entertaining to watch on-screen I longed for another mystery to come along afterwards. His acting performance is excellent and easily the best part of the film.
The supporting cast boasts industry legends like Willem Defoe and Judi Dench alongside rising stars like Josh Gad and Daisy Ridley. Given the talented nature of the cast, it is a little disappointing to say they are all good at best. It’s possibly due to Branagh’s magnetic performance, but nobody in the supporting cast gives a real stand out showing to stick out in my mind after the film.
One other thing I loved about this film is the cinematography. The special effects are a little iffy at times with some very obvious green screen effect but it’s everything on the train that really looks good, with inventive uses of the camera to film this enclosed space. The style of the film is perfected by the excellent make-up and wardrobe on this film, to contribute towards make this a film that looks and feels perfect for the time period.
Murder on the Orient Express steams along at a good pace once it gets going, and you have to be switched on to keep up with the developments that are being presented to you on-screen. You get an insight into how brilliant Poirot is supposed to be right from the start and get the impression it’s all a bit too easy for him at times. This is where the main character development is in the movie, with Poirot the only character to have any real changes from how they are at the start of the film.
One of the main issues I have with this film is that whilst it’s all clicking for the inspector, us as the audience are not presented with any clues to piece it together ourselves except in the form on exposition by the lead character. In fact, the film acts almost like a documentary documenting Poirot’s thoughts as he goes through the investigation. I am trying to stay as spoiler free as possible but a key component of the investigation is based on something we have no way of knowing about as the audience, and are only told the information as it becomes relevant for the situation on-screen.
I guess the key point I want to make here is that the murder mystery side of the film loses its impact when the audience cant possible piece together anything without a load of exposition from Poirot, and to me this is a missed opportunity. We get an insight into how the detective worked it out, but the This is okay, but prevents us from feeling really involved in solving the mystery.
Murder on the Orient Express is certainly no less than a good film. the performance of Kenneth Branagh alone is worth watching. But if you’re looking for a really engrossing mystery to investigate yourself along with the character in the film, this one just misses that special something to take it to the next level. Still, it stays on track as a solid adaptation of an old tale and will bring the story to a new audience hopefully, so we can start to get more from the murder mystery genre.
7/10 – And the winner for Best Mustache goes to…