Cert: 12A Runtime: 114 mins Director: Kenneth Branagh Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfiffer, Penelope Cruz, Josh Gad, Willem Dafoe, Derek Jacobi and Judi Dench
I see evil on this train
Murder on the Orient Express isn’t a film you’d expect during this current cinematic climate. Gone are the days of using classic novels, we now have dystopian literature getting butts on seats. Kenneth Branagh can tackle any literary source he wants, he seems to always deliver. Murder on the Orient Express has one of the biggest A list casts for many years. You’d expect power house performances all round. From the initial trailer I was interested to see what Branagh had to show us. So what is Murder on the Orient Express about you ask? A lavish trip through Europe quickly unfolds into a race against time to solve a murder aboard a train. Everyone’s a suspect when Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) arrives to interrogate all passengers and search for clues before the killer can strike again.
Branagh seemed to have a different take to begin with, the opening half was witty, vibrant and fast. He went for the Guy Ritchie approach (circa Sherlock Holmes). Poirot was an interesting, vibrant and captivating on screen presence at this point. The build up to the journey was exciting, but on the Orient Express it stalls. Once the murder is committed the film doesn’t flow and it looses that initial tone. Kenneth Branagh then takes the safe option and use the source material without continuing his initial punt. The concluding act was tense, and it really saves Murder on the Orient Express. Branagh had a great vision behind the lens, rather than the standard steady cam you’d expect. Murder on the Orient Express flows naturally, you feel like you are on the journey too.
Branagh’s choice of the murder reveal using a birds eye shot was genius. This shot is used through out the film, but for that scene in particular beautifully chosen. As for the A-List cast, Branagh really is the stand out. He gives Poirot a new lease of life. He has the wit and mannerisms right, but his rich line delivery even with a French/Belgium accent works. The most bizarre moustache on top of this performance a strong one. As for Depp, Gad, Cruz, Dafoe, Jacoby & Dench under used but they serve their purpose. Michelle Pfiffer keeps standing out for me, she gave a good dramatic performance. Daisy Ridely shouldn’t have featured in this film, it was slightly AM-DRAM for me. Murder on the Orient Express won’t be in my mind for too long. It was a fun ride, you would wish the witty tone would have carried on.