Murder on the Orient Express

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Murder on the Orient Express

Kenneth Branagh directs and stars in a sporadically entertaining adaptation of the murder mystery classic.

Glamorous passengers are stuck on a train while a murderer is on the loose – it’s a jolly good job the detective Hercule Poirot (director Kenneth Branagh) is among them. As they board the train in their finery, it’s pleasantly easy to get distracted by the casting in Branagh’s Agatha Christie adaptation, which is just as glittering as its 1974 predecessor, also set in 1930s Europe.

Johnny Depp plays American gangster Ratchett, who checks onto the luxurious Orient Express looking nervously over his shoulder, as well he might. His staff are Edward Masterman (Sir Derek Jacobi) and Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad), while fellow passengers include Princess Dragomiroff (Dame Judi Dench), her maid Hildegarde Schmidt (Olivia Colman), the religious Pilar Estravados (Penelope Cruz) and governess Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley). That’s a lot of thesp heft, but this adaptation seems unlikely to be nominated for as many Academy Awards as Sidney Lumet’s lauded version.

First off, there’s Branagh, hamming it up with a horrifying moustache that looms monstrously on the big screen. His pompous, fussy one-liners are tired and largely unfunny. Several other actors are saddled with dialogue that’s as creaky as the wheezing train brakes, indicating how increasingly hard it is to update Christie for a contemporary audience (although the character of Arbuthnot – previously portrayed by Sean Connery – is played by black actor Leslie Odom Jr). Then there’s Haris Zambarloukos’s distracting cinematography, which darts up, down and around the snowed-in train carriage, as if pining for a bigger canvas.

But then... there is Michelle Pfeiffer. She’s luminous as the flirty widow Mrs Hubbard, and delivers one moving scene that, along with her appearance in ‘Mother!’, makes 2017 a strong Pfeiffer year. Tom Bateman is great fun as train boss Bouc (Christie was perhaps better at writing comically frivolous characters than those who took themselves seriously). If it's all a little too crowded with characters, Branagh’s pacy direction keeps the story zipping along to a conclusion that’s tense even if you remember whodunnit.

By: Anna Smith

Posted:

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday November 3 2017
Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Kenneth Branagh
Screenwriter: Michael Green
Cast: Kenneth Branagh
Johnny Depp
Michelle Pfeiffer
Penélope Cruz
Willem Dafoe
Judi Dench
Olivia Colman
Derek Jacobi
Daisy Ridley

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LiveReviews|22
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tastemaker

so .... Murder mystery movie is what springs to Mind when watching this.. Adapted from Agatha Christie's novel "Murder On the Orient Express" ..the novel was brought to life by Kenneth branargh.

Star studded and full of twists and turns but slow in pace and in action.its one of those movie you don't mind but probably will never watch again as its just not exciting..

Tastemaker

On paper, this has all the hallmarks of an instant classic, yet on this, it sadly doesn't quite deliver. Not having read the book or seen any previous portrayals I could watch this objectively not knowing the ending, and to be honest it all seemed a bit of a letdown. I can only presume the story can't be to blame or it wouldn't be regarded as an all-time classic. While it had its moments and I enjoyed the build upon the whole it just doesn't live up to it's potential and left me feeling a little short-changed.

tastemaker

What is the opposite of something being more than the sum of its parts? All the parts and no sum is essentially what I'm trying to say and those parts are the only reason I'm writing this and you're reading it. Wholly uninspiring, a raft of mailed in performances and a tedious plot

tastemaker

Did we really need a remake of this ?

As it was bound to be so much better, of course we did. But it's not.

It's full of "stars" in little parts. Dame Judi has a few lines, and Olivia Colman has even less (in German...)

Johnny Depp turns up......

Kenneth Branagh, the director, has created what looks like a lack lustre Christmas TV Christmas Christie, while Kenneth Branagh, the actor is just too silly as Poirot. 


Murder On The Orient Express. So another adaption of Agatha Christie’s novel this time with the moustachioed Kenneth Branagh as the Belgium detective... and what a moustache. If you have watched any of the previous versions of this story then you know the whole plot. Instead this is a case of sit back and just watch the ensemble cast enjoying themselves in their roles. Sweeping landscapes, thundering score and a A-list of actors. If you fancy watching a period piece with a load of actors obviously enjoying the scenery then you could do worse than watch this.

tastemaker

I would definitely say that this film is meant for cold winter afternoons with a mug of hot chocolate and a blanket. It was slightly slow at times, but the sheer quality of the cast and the decadence of the set make up for it. We were guessing who the murderer was right until the end. Will definitely watch again.

Tastemaker

I'm not familiar with the Poirot franchise but I don't think the film was lost on me. It was a very enjoyable throwback to British film. The cast were incredible, but they were bound to me; truly an all star line up. There was drama, suspense and a lot more wit and humour than I was prepared. The ending was drawn out and a bit of a curve ball which ruined it a little bit. Definitly put it on your watch list!

tastemaker

Everyone knows the story, and this version is okay. The film is good, acting is as you would expect from the stellar actors and actresses, and visually it's very pleasing. I can't help but feel the movie was relying too heavily on the all star cast to carry it, and you can certainly tell Kenneth Branagh enjoyed his moment as Poirot. It's a good enough film, but might be worth waiting for the DVD instead. 

Tastemaker

I have read my Agatha Christie back in the day, but Murder on the Orient Express is the one that got away. As famous as the book is, I never got around to it. Neither did I ever see the movie from the 1970s that so many people tend to reference when reviewing the latest Kenneth Branagh’s version. So, I suppose, I was in a privileged position of being new to the set up. And oh my did I enjoy it. So many ‘whodunnit’ stories out there, vying for our attention on screens big and small, yet the Christie take on it felt amazingly fresh. If I were particularly peckish, I could perhaps point at the unlikelihood of the best detective in the world (that’s how Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot is referred to in the movie) finding himself onboard the Orient Express on the particular day of that particular murder, but that’s the disbelief I am happy to suspend.

I found the ensemble cast amazing. The old glories like Judy Dench, Willem Defoe, Michelle Pfeiffer and Johnny Depp shone as bright as ever, but Sergei Polunin was a great revelation. Sure, we all know he is a glorious dancer, but for someone who starred for the first time in a movie (as far as I know) he did an amazing job injecting his character with both brooding melancholy and raw violence.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the production design and the theatrics of it all, reminiscent to me of both Paddington and Wes Anders movies at the same time. In short, I was pleasantly surprised.

It all felt a bit escapist, but then we are entering Christmas season, aren’t we? 


Tastemaker

I can't understand all the negative reviews of this film! I loved it - great cast, beautiful scenery, well acted, a gripping story. Admittedly, I didn't go with very high expectations because I had read Time Out's 3 star rbecause view beforehand, but I was pleasantly surprised! I didn't notice the time passing at all while watching this film, and really enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend!

tastemaker

I had high expectations of this film and that probably didn’t help to be honest!

Kenneth Branagh properly hams it up as Poirot and gives himself as the lead and director plenty of front-and-centre screen time. His moustache is also ridiculous.

The supporting cast is very strong but you don’t stay with any of them for long enough so it’s hard for any one actor to deliver an amazing performance.

Jonny Depp is particularly bad and sticks to his mantra of going through the motions. Daisy Ridley isn’t a lot better.

The visuals are interesting at times - and particular care was clearly taken to recreate the Orient Express - but the whole movie is heavily edited (so much make-up and the beautiful scenery looked too fake), it ultimately all feels a bit too much of a self-indulgence by Branagh.

By the end I wasn’t all that bothered by the whodunit reveal.

tastemaker

I fell asleep in short.

Beautiful scenic shots coupled with a great cast on paper, however I didn't get hooked in.

Thankfully I woke up at the end to find out who did it.

tastemaker

I had the idea from the impressive trailers and marketing campaigns that this film was going to be the next big thing. From the all star cast including Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench and of course Sir Kenneth Branagh, who not only stared in the leading role as Hercule Poirot but also directed the film, I was expecting a monumental masterpiece. Unfortunately, I soon realised when I looked past the impressive sets, locations and costumes there wasn’t really much to gain from this attempt of one of Agatha Christie most famous murder mystery’s. In fact without the stela cast, the film is fairly, well...dead. The crux of the story is a man, played by Johnny Depp is killed in his bed on The Orient Express travelling from Istanbul to Paris. However the train has been caught in an avalanche, and Poirot is persuaded to take on the case, predictably unearthing facts the other characters would prefer to keep hidden.

With such a large cast, the audience never particularly become embroiled in the characters stories, but instead often feel side-lined to watch events unfold. The writing was sloppy and the one liners were a bit dated to say the least. I felt the script was reaching for a laugh instead of acting earning it.

Branagh seemed he wanted to be as honest to the book as he could. I have never read Christie’s version, and only have David Suchet’s interpretation to base my understanding on, but I found Branagh’s character fairly inconsistent. At one point he is concerned that his eggs are exactly the same size, and then at another happy to share a dessert with another guest. This didn’t seem reflective of the time or location the characters are in. No wonder so much attention has been given to his ridiculous moustache, as there wasn’t much else to mention about the character.

The film finishes with the set up of the next instalment ‘Death on the Nile’. It will be interesting to see if that one is any better, or if it’s just better to stick to the old ITV reruns.

tastemaker

You will be disappointed if you read Agatha Christie's brilliant book with the same title. 

I know, there is almost always some correlation between film adaptations and disappointment but sadly, also in this case the adaptation features numerous differences. What annoyed me the most, was the character of Poirot himself. He was way too emotional and nostalgic and did not resemble the original at all. It is not a bad movie though. Worth watching for amazing costumes, breathtaking locations and brilliant Michelle Pfeiffer. 

Tastemaker

Ok, the film is lovely to look at, from the early scenes in Jerusalem and Istanbul to the lavish interiors of the train. But this is a plainly ridiculous film, even setting aside Branagh's absurd facial hair (each moustache half appears to have another moustache tacked on). The ages of the actors make no sense; there's no way for the governess to be the same age as...well, it will become clear later. It's idiotic to try to turn Poirot into a nimble action star, when the essence of his character is that he sits and thinks his way to solutions. And the volatile count is a massive, pointless caricature. Either the film could have leaned into the ridiculousness and hamminess of all these aspects, playing up the comedy, or it should have removed these implausible and distracting components.

tastemaker

The rather cool trailer sold this film to me. Usually Agatha Christie isn't my thing but I couldn't ignore its stylised look and brilliant cast. The film didn't disappoint. Because I hadn't seen the previous versions I genuinely didn't know who did it though I did guess quite early on who was the guilty party. I found the movie very enjoyable. The aerial view of the discovery of the body was unusual and a good attempt not to let the viewer into the murder scene at the beginning. The beautiful locations where the film was shot was really cool and added to the glamour.  

tastemaker

I enjoyed this movie very much. I have not read the book nor watched the older version so the story was all new to me. The glamorous costume, special effects, screenplay, all stars cast and the crescendo to the climax were very good. I kept on guessing who the murderer was. 

tastemaker

David Suchet is always going to be a hard act to follow as Poirot, but Kenneth Branagh should not be quickly dismissed. He has his own little idiosyncrasies and traits, and combines authority with enough sensitivity. The scenery is magnificent and that carries the film forward beautifully. Despite an all-star cast ( Dame Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Olivia Coleman and Michelle Pfeiffer to name but a few), there are times in this wordy film when I felt like getting up and making a cup of tea. I was fidgeting in my seat. I knew the story and I knew what to expect but the pace wasn't quite enough.

Tastemaker

I am a massive Agatha Christie fan and I went long with someone who did not know the story at all, so it was interesting to see what he thought of it. As a fan I was delighted! I thought the begining was a bit American- however you need to introduce Poirot to people who might not know the character. I was dubious of having Kenneth Branagh as Poirot- I am a diehard David Suchet Fan- however I thought he delivered the character really well. I love the glitz and glamour of the movie, plus major point for arguably the best mustache every to grace to silver screen.


My friend who did not know the ending was blown away. He also like the glamour of the movie and said he really would have never guessed the ending. It is corker though!


There were moments of absolute ridicule- for example while Ms Hubbard is being treated for her stab wound and they are discussing the dangers of being in a confined space with a murderer- there is a woman in the corner playing the piano like if they were chatting about the weather. 


I docked a star for the very americanized start which I though was quite cringe.


They do allude to making another Agatha Christie movie- which if they are I cannot wait!!!!!

Tastemaker

I have it three stars but if I could I would I given two and a half.

Amazing cast but unfortunately this film fails to deliver an engaging mystery. However, if you are a murder mystery fan, I’m sure you’ll spend a good time.


Murder on the average express. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, cast of Luvvies all thrown together on a train, but it just doesn't really work, it feels very dated and forced, the CGI is rather too obvious and little or no tension is actually developed.  Branagh has done some fine work and seems here to want to develop a franchise, with a link to a possible sequel but methinks this express  may stay derailed


Wrong interpretation of Agatha Christie's work. It's Hercule Poirot revisited in Hollywood style. We could do better in 2017...