What starts out as a lavish train ride through Europe quickly unfolds into one of the most stylish, suspenseful and thrilling mysteries ever told. From the 10th novel in the 33 book series of Hercule Poirot‘s adventures by best – selling author Agatha Christie, “Murder on the Orient Express” tells the tale of thirteen strangers stranded on a train, where everyone’s a suspect. One man must race against time to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.
Kenneth Branagh directs and leads an all – star cast including Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley and Josh Gad.
What isn’t mentioned is that one of the stars of the film is quite clearly Kenneth Branagh’s moustache.
Sir Ken has spoken of how the incredible furry lip is Hercule Poirot’s superpower and it goes a long way to explaining the character’s fastidious eye for detail – OCD – that everything be up to an exact standard, this condition helping him to solve puzzles by making things that shouldn’t be, stand out like the proverbial.
In the case of this story, when a passenger is murdered and the remaining passengers all fall under suspicion , it is up to Poirot to deduce whodunnit and he does this using clues found throughout the carriages on top of his own unique knowledge of the well-to-do travellers.
Branagh has spoken of how necessary it is to employ a top shelf cast (as in the case of the 1974 version) so that the audience is able to believe each of them are capable of such a big deed as a murder.
For the most part this works, as I found myself absorbed and intrigued with the great detective’s astute investigation with each character’s alibi facing off to Poirot’s questioning, leaving me to wonder, who on the train was the murderer.
I started to watch the Sidney Lumet version and found it extremely dated. Not to mention the Poirot character played by Albert Finney bears a striking resemblance to Mr Creosote from Monty Python.
I know we live in a world where we question the need for reboots of old titles, but this one felt like a worthy, if light, resurrection given that Agatha Christie tales are generally compelling stories.
The movie ends with a set-up for the next film, and I look forward to seeing more of Sir Ken and his moustache on my big screen soon in (the 17th Poirot novel) Death on the Nile.
3 Stars – “Entertaining, if Light, Rail Thriller”