Starring Kenneth Branagh and Johnny Depp Branagh directs and stars in this lavish adaptation of Agatha Christie’s iconic murder mystery which is full of richness on a lavish scale. The film was obviously made with sets and costumes in mind perhaps at the detriment of the original story. The film opens with Branagh as Hercule Poirot on the bustling streets of Jerusalem in 1934. Of course the famous Belgian detective is sharp and quirky and supremely confident in his peerless skill at observation and deduction. He is urgently summoned to London and gets a last-minute berth on the famous Train, the Orient Express. His fellow passengers are all a deceptive group. We meet a scar-faced wheeler- dealer (Johnny Depp) who is travelling with his put-upon secretary (Josh Gadd) and reserved valet (Derek Jacobi); a brash blonde (Michelle Pfeiffer) who calls herself a “husband hunter”, a snobbish Russian princess (Judi Dench) and her German maid (Olivia Coleman); a racist Austrian professor (Willem Defoe); a Spanish missionary (Penelope Cruz); a lively British governess (Daisy Ridley); along with some others. The non-stop movement, both of the camera and the train adds to the films energy and does help this version appear to be faster than it actually is. Then comes the supposed murder, a stabbing that occurs just before the train is involved in a lightning strike (different to the book) which sets off a huge avalanche, and the Orient Express is derailed.
Poirot agrees to investigate, and talks to the other passengers, one by one as we attempt to spot the clues. The director tends to leave out a lot of the mysterious fun of Agatha Christies original clues which are a bit of a disappointment.
So instead we see Poirot attempt to solve the mystery based on the evidence we are shown and has to resort to a combination of pure guesswork and furious shouting. So instead of the infamous ending that should truly move us; we get more of a big production without the necessary character details intertwined that would have been so much more satisfying especially when most already know the characters on the train.
Rated M 6 out of 10