13 strangers on a train traveling across Europe from Istanbul to London. Each from different walks of life and social class. One passenger is the famed detective Hercule Poirot taking a break from his crime solving work until he is summoned to London for another impending case. Everyone seems to be enjoying their trip except for one American businessman who approaches Poirot with a proposition to engage the detective as his bodyguard. It seems he has been receiving threats. Poirot refuses. The next morning, the businessman is discovered murdered in his compartment. Each passenger is now a suspect and it’s up to the meticulous skills of the great Hercule Poirot to find the killer.
In this remake of the Agatha Christie classic mystery, Kenneth Branagh takes the reigns as director as well as stepping into the shoes of Christie’s famed Belgian detective. Kenneth’s Poirot is an exacting man with an air of self-assuredness and a slight bit of ego. He IS the world’s greatest detective after all. Kenneth also takes a different approach to the famed Poirot mustache. Where past Poirot’s have a small affair that is turned up at the ends, Branagh’s is a huge caterpillar of facial hair that spreads across his face. As with previous versions, this film boasts a colorful and unexpected mix of star power. Oscar winners Judi Dench, and Penelope Cruz, and nominees Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, and of course Johnny Depp in a short but savory performance as the American “businessman” read: gangster who is the murder victim. Rounding out the cast we have Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton). Set in the 1930s, this lush costume drama is eye candy to be sure. There is a surprising amount of humor in this film. Not too much though. It’s just little light moments that give a burst of energy. If you have never seen an adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, this would be a great one to have as your first. For a film It seems to have the tone of a stage play, but I think that helps to foster the feeling of suspense you need that keeps you guessing at whodunit. If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, I recommend this film. Even if you aren’t I still recommend it just to see this eclectic cast in action. You don’t often get to see an ensemble quite like this.
Check out the trailer for “MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS” below: