Agatha Christie is one of the world’s most revered authors, having written multiple best-selling novels throughout her decades-long career. Christie was particularly known for her crime novels featuring her mainstay character, detective Hercule Poirot. And although Christie has had several popular novels go down in history as classic literature, her most famous story is quite possibly Murder on the Orient Express.
For those who are unaware, Murder on the Orient Express tells the tale of Detective Poirot as he travels on the titular locomotive on his way to London. The trip is disrupted by an avalanche, leaving everyone on board stranded. As the crew and passengers await the rescue team, a murder is committed aboard the train, and Poirot, the world’s greatest detective, is tasked with finding the culprit.
Director Kenneth Branagh was tasked with a large responsibility: to remake a classic story that has been retold over and over again. Murder on the Orient Express has been adapted for film and television a whopping four times, not including this year’s iteration. How does one make a not-so-new story feel fresh? It’s certainly a daunting challenge, but Branagh does a great job.
Branagh, who also portrays main protagonist Hercule Poirot, curated an ensemble cast featuring the likes of Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz and Daisy Ridley and did the only thing you can do with an all-star cast: let it shine. And that’s exactly what it does.
It’s a classic whodunnit that leaves audiences entertained. And while the film doesn’t necessarily do anything new or innovative, it doesn’t really need to. Branagh’s interpretation of Murder on the Orient Express features a tight script with plenty of laughs, some really clever and unexpected camera work and fantastic performances from everyone involved.
Obviously, the film is not without its flaws. With so many characters on board, Branagh struggles a bit to give each of them their due. And although we are told time and time again that Poirot is the world’s greatest detective, it would have been nice to see just how he came to his final conclusion of who committed the murder.
The film’s flaws are few and far between. Branagh and company do an excellent job of keeping the audience engaged and enthralled in a story that is so old and over told, it shouldn’t feel as such. I definitely suggest giving this film a watch.