Agatha Christie’s acclaimed 1934 novel, Murder on the Orient Express, is a thriller of such cultural significance that I approach any modern day ‘re-telling’ with great trepidation. However, with Kenneth Branagh directing (and starring as the tale’s central figure, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot) and having gathered a cast that would make any movie fan weep with joy, I am actually excited to see the final product.
For those who don’t know the story…..Murder on the Orient Express is a thriller set entirely on a luxurious train that has been stranded mid journey by an avalanche. Think 1930’s chic glamour and almost decadent opulence. On this train, there are a handful of passengers, one dead body and a world renowned detective.
In other words, we have a dead body and 12 suspects.
So…… who dun it?
The unfortunate victim is the dastardly Ratchett (Depp) who gives off creepy creeper vibes in waves. Boo! Hiss! Well to be fair, some of that could just be Depp himself but you get the picture.
With the demise of Ratchett, it is up to our heavily moustached hero Poirot to sort the riff from the raff and present us with our killer. The people on board the train are a diverse bunch, as you would expect of random strangers on a 3 day trek across the countryside, and each seems to have something to hide.
What are the governess Mary (Ridley) and her doctor Arbuthnot (Odom Jr) really up to?
What is the devout and frankly scary Pilar (Cruz) hiding?
Is the widow Hubbard (Pfeiffer) really on the hunt for husband #3?
Could Hector MacQueen (Gad) be any more shady?
And could the demanding, bitchy diva, Princess Dragomiroff (Dench) be any more fierce and fabulous? (That is of course a solid no. All hail Dame Judi!!)
But I digress …..nothing escapes the attention of Mr Hercule Poirot!
Branagh has taken the reins and delivers a wonderful movie worthy of the novel and the entire genre. His steady hand and attention to detail elevates what, at times, teeters on the edge of dull. I am the first to admit I can find these whodunit movies tiresome and just want it solved but the characters are imbibed with such depth and passion, particularly Pfeiffer’s Mrs Hubbard, that you are pulled back from the brink, just in the nick of time.
If you are a Christie fan, a Branagh devotee or just a whodunit junkie, this is the movie for you. If you like your movies with just a little more ….. oompfh, you might want to spend your box office money elsewhere.
Director : Kenneth Branagh
Starring : Kenneth Branagh, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Derek Jacobi, Lucy Boynton, Judi Dench, Olivia Coleman, Phil Dunster, Leslie Odom Jr, Tom Bateman, Josh Gad
Running Time : 114 minutes
Release Date : In cinemas now
If it's on in Newcastle, it's on Newcastle Live