*Originally written November 9th, 2017*
I've never seen a previous adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express or anything with Hercule Poirot outside of spoof, but this seemed as good a start to this material as you could get. It's not massively new or inventive. It's just an incredible entertaining murder mystery that makes the most of its cast and setting.
Kenneth Branagh does a fantastic job in front and behind the camera. His role as Hercule Poirot is pure pantomime and camp, which worked perfectly with the film. He's funny, smart and endlessly glorious to watch. His moustache is something of majesty. A piece of facial hair every man in the world should grow.
The story at the centre is immensely engaging. It really helped going into this blind. I had no idea who the killer was or why it happened, so it made the reveals that much more effective and surprising. It's rare twists come out and they don't feel forced. It doesn't itself too seriously, the ending is pretty mental, but with fun tone this was going for, it all worked in its favour.
It's hard to split the run time and fully develop thirteen characters, which is something the film struggled with. That said, everyone gets a chance to shine and have fun with the roles. Willem Dafoe is always wonderful, and I was reminded a little of Tim Roth in The Hateful Eight. It was also nice to see Daisy Ridley outside of the Star Wars series. Johnny Depp was a disgusting and horrible character, so it made it that much more satisfying as he was the victim. Peep Show's Olivia Coleman was a little underused, but it's cool to see her as part of a huge ensemble cast in a film like this. Everyone does fine, if a little under served, but it really is Kenneth Branagh's show.
Even as a director his work is solid. Orient Express is a fast and flashy film with a lot of style. It's a gorgeous looking film that manages to be creative with its enclosed location of a single train for the most part. Loved the overhead angles and long takes of stuff like Poirot investigating a train carriage. There is some poor CGI and green screen here and there, it's not much, but it is very noticeable.
Murder on the Orient Express won't reinvent cinema or anything, but it's still an extremely fun and entertaining murder mystery with a great cast and a standout Kenneth Branagh sporting a glorious piece of a facial hair.
Murder on the Orient Express is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:
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