You should try The Circle Line
Ok, let us get something sorted straight away. There will be no more train or underground puns during this review, they are Districtly forbidden. I won’t allow them, they are cheap, unneeded, and all they do is Hammersmith the point home. Oh dear, this review could be more of a challenge than I first thought it’s a good thing that Hercule Poirot is on the case! But the real question is will this be the start of a Great Game or just a Death on the Nile?
I respect Kenneth Branagh I really do, the man seems to enjoy difficult choices in movies, he’s taken on Thor, Cinderella and a whole list of Shakespeare and now finally turned his hand to the classic work of Agatha Christie who wrote many a murder mystery, so my first question is why?
Why would you do that Kenneth? Why would you disrupt the order like that, this is film no one requested or wanted, we were quite happy with the stage plays and the occasional special on ITV of Christie’s work. We don’t want to upset David Suchet, he is literally a national treasure! So why do it? Why try and remake something that doesn’t need remaking? And her incline’s the problem.
If you care enough about the story to be aware of it, you’ve already seen it and if you don’t, no number of Hollywood stars will entice you to attending. “What’s that you say? Jonny Depp’s in it? Well, cash my ticket in right now sir! “Said no one in the last 5 years. It’s surreal to consider how much of the shine has gone off of Mr. Depp, he was once one of Hollywood’s biggest draws, now he is one of Hollywood’s biggest draws for all the wrong reasons. He’s like Robert Downy Jr. in reverse.
If we try to rid ourselves of all over incarnations of Poirot then what we are left with is a surreal murder mystery that in itself doesn’t quite add up. Unfortunately, Branagh wants to put his spin on the character too much, he wants to give him depth and motivation which is never really needed and ultimately sacrifices the other characters screen time and even some curtail plot points.
In the end, the Murder On The Orient Express continually feels like a locomotive steamrolling through anything that doesn’t fit with its interpretation of the source material.
Nothing is quite as frustrating as watching a film for almost 2 hours to only have it tied up in 10 minutes at the end as if the conclusion is an afterthought of character development. That’s just how it feels like Branagh is far more interested in the characters than the story surrounding them. In his defence, if you are going to pull in as many heavy hitters as he has for this, you better be sure you are giving everyone adequate screen time.
Ironically Murder On The Orient Express feels like it can never hit it’s top speed, what we are ultimately left with is a film that looks as lavish and decadent as the train that carries it but contains a half-baked storyline.