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Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express: A Journey Worth Taking

  • Kenneth BranaghPenelope Cruz...
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  • Kenneth Branagh
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Marija Djurovic
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Murder on the Orient Express: A Journey Worth Taking

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express – a story which was first visited onscreen back in 1974 with Sidney Lumet’s Oscar-winning all-star cast interpretation –  is perhaps one of the author’s most known and notable piece of literary works. Bringing it back onto the silver screen is actor-director Kenneth Branagh, who, along with screenwriter Michael Green, manages to deliver an intriguing, if perhaps shortchanged, adaptation which, thanks to a couple of fine performances and the overall strength of its source material, still has its merits.

If you’re not already familiar with the story, here’s a little breakdown of the events.

The year is 1934 and world-renowned detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) is looking forward to a well-deserved break, after having successfully solved a case in Jerusalem. However, his break is soon cut short when he is summoned from Istanbul to London for another case, and after getting an offer to ride on the Orient Express by a friend and admirer, Mr. Bouc (Bateman), the detective soon settles in for a long journey to Europe.

Once on the train, Poirot soon becomes acquainted with other travelling passengers, including small-time gangster and novice art dealer, Edward Ratchett (Depp), Dr. Arbuthnot (Odom Jr.) and governess Mary Debenham (Ridley) among others. Tragedy soon strikes when, after the train is derailed during an avalanche, one of the passengers is murdered.  Considering all of the factors, Poirot soon makes the deduction that the murderer is one of victim’s fellow passengers on the train, leaving the detective with the task to find the murderer before the police comes on board.

One of the movie’s strongest features lies with its technical achievements. Polished and stylish to the bone, the cinematography is spectacular with Branagh, along with cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos, successfully capturing the story’s atmosphere and its single 1934-period-train setting, to great effect. Paying close attention to the details, the movie feels familiar and comfortingly old-fashioned and Branagh’s key focus on the imagery portrayed is nothing short of enthralling. However, the downside to all of this beauty lays with occasional heavy-handed use of CGI – employed here to envision the train’s surrounding environments – which unfortunately, puts a little damper on the movie’s overall authenticity.

Nevertheless, Branagh more than delivers on the acting front, with his intriguing and fun portrayal of the famous detective Poirot quickly establishing him as a likeable lead. Unfortunately, though, the rest of the cast’s roles, apart from Michelle Pfeiffer as socialite Caroline Hubbard, are not as fleshed-out as one would expect with Branagh limiting some of their screen time, which results in shedding their individual storylines from of any meaningful turns.

Overall, Murder on the Orient Express is a decent and a beautifully old-fashioned adaptation of Agatha Christie’s acclaimed whodunit. It might not be as magical or as intriguing as the 1974 version – until now that is still the best adaptation of the story – but there is still enough here to keep the story from completely going off the rails.

Like This? Try

Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Death on the Nile (1978), Thirteen at Dinner (1985)

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Angelina Jolie was originally attached to play the role of Mrs. Hubbard; Charlize Theron was also approached, before Michelle Pfeiffer was finally cast.

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