Murder on the Orient Express -Rated PG–13 – 1 hr. 54 mins.
BELOW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS…CONTINUE READING AT OWN RISK
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writers: Michael Green (screenplay by), Agatha Christie (based upon the novel by)
Starring Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Derek Jacobi, Tom Bateman, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Sergei Polunin, Miranda Raison
Murder on the Orient Express is the new film directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh. It is based on the Agatha Christie mystery novel of the same name. The film follows the brilliant detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) taking a break from solving impossible crimes by riding on a lavish train called the Orient Express. While his journey begins very innocent, it quickly turns into Poirot attempting to solve the murder of one of the passengers aboard the Orient Express which is filled with a terrific cast of suspects which include Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Tom Bateman, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Daisy Ridley, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Sergei Polunin.
Let me first start by saying I can never make my mind up about whether film remakes are good ideas or bad ideas. You see some that are great like Cape Fear, Ocean’s Eleven, The Fly, King Kong, etc. But then there are those that are not so great. The one’s where you hear everyone say, “what were they thinking?” or “why did they remake that one?”; films like Psycho, Arthur, Point Break, etc. Murder on the Orient Express is not one of those films. This remake is warranted. This is a story that deserves retelling. I think Hollywood should continue remaking this movie every 40 years. Every time with an updated star studded cast. Not many people, at least that I have spoken to, knew this was even a remake. They thought it was just another stand alone film. I am one of the very few movie goers these days that has seen the original 1974 classic Murder on the Orient Express. And like the 2017 version, it had a cast of legends including the talents of Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, SIR SEAN CONNERY (I’m a huge James Bond fan), Anthony Perkins, Michael York, Vanessa Redgrave, Ingrid Bergman (who won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Greta in the picture) and finally Albert Finney as the famous detective Hercule Poirot (who was also nominated for an Academy Award in a Leading Role for the picture). Now at first, I did find it very hard going into this new version of the film without thinking about the old one. I wondered if all the details would be the same, but mainly the ending. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ruin the “who done it” ending…(it was Colonel Mustard with candlestick in the library btw), but as I watched the film I really didn’t think too much about the other movie. I really think Kenneth Branagh’s version stood on its own and that is due to his performance as Poirot. He did his own thing with the character and didn’t copy from Finney’s 1974 version of the character. I love it when an actor can do this. Take a very colorful charismatic character and make it their own. For example, the character of James Bond (as I secretly mentioned above) has been played by six different actors (I don’t EVER count David Niven) and all of them have made the character their own in each of their films. Kenneth Branagh did this and I openly applaud him.
The other players of this film were very entertaining to watch too, but no one really stood out as a must see. I really wasn’t waiting for any of the characters to make an appearance. They were all introduced so subtly, that I was constantly thinking to myself, “Oh there’s Josh Gad. Oh there’s Penelope Cruz. Oh Michelle Pfeiffer is in this too. By the time Willem Dafoe made his appearance I completely forgot he was in it; which made for a pleasant surprise (LOL). Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t want to take anything away from any of them. I love watching them all in everything they do, but this movie was clearly the Kenneth Branagh Show. He took the cake and everyone else in it were the sprinkles on top of that cake. The only person you’re really waiting to see what they do is Johnny Depp. But let’s face it, you’re always waiting to see what Johnny Depp does. He’s such a great actor and I think the character he plays in this film was a quietly risky choice on his part. It felt like he was tapping into his John Dillinger Public Enemies roots, which is fitting because this film is set in the 1930s.
Now getting to the film itself. I thought it was very good and shot beautifully. I don’t want to go into too many details in the film, but there was a scene with Willem Dafoe that made me grin from ear to ear with what they did with the camera and the scene. I loved it. Probably my favorite shot of the film. Kenneth Branagh’s use of the camera in his films has gotten so much more creative and daring when he’s telling a story. That’s how you know you’re watching a good director. Their style adapts and changes for the better with each film they make. Don’t believe me? Go back and watch some of Branagh’s earlier films and you’ll see my point. Watch them in this order:
- Dead Again
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
- Murder on the Orient Express
Each one of these films are very good and worth watching at least once, but you can tell with each one that he’s adapting his craft and “changing with the times” to make the best picture possible. As for his latest film, Murder on the Orient Express, my suggestion is go see it in the theater if you’re a fan of the 1974 original film or just a Kenneth Branagh fan, otherwise wait for it to watch at home. Either way, this one is definitely worth seeing.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
this humble opinion was brought to you by: T.K. Edwards