One murder. Countless suspects. Ensemble cast. That’s Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express that takes you down the memory lane when trains were the primary source of traveling and where committing a murder was near impossible, especially in a moving train. The film has a cast to die for including Branagh as Hercule Poirot, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer in supporting roles.
Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is traveling on the famed Orient Express when a murder takes place and everyone becomes a suspect; some of his fellow travelers are traveling under an assumed identity while others are suspected of having an agenda against the deceased who had a shady past himself.
Poirot does what he does the best and makes the passengers uncomfortable with his questions that lead to finally unraveling the murderer.
Kenneth Branagh acts in and directs the film well but there is something missing here and there. He takes many creative liberties from the original including his appearance as well as the characteristics of some of the ‘suspects’ in the film.
Technically this is one of the best Poirot films considering hardly any have been made in the last 3 decades but it looks a little drag even for the very die-hard fans of the Belgian detective. Yes, the presence of Michelle Pfeiffer in a substantial role after a long time is a treat for her fans; all the actors fit their character profiles thanks to the costume designs that take you back in time; they even keep you engrossed in the mystery that unravels to surprise most of the people in the audience.
Murder on the Orient Express may be the best way to pay tribute to Hercule Poirot and his creator Agatha Christie but it has been filmed before with a star cast in the 70s. It doesn’t remain a whodunnit for those who have read the book or watched that version until and unless there was a Don kind of twist.
For the fans of the many Oscar nominees and winners present in the ensemble cast, this film is worth a one-time watch. The period setting, the expressions and the ability to look suspicious will surely treat the little grey cells of the audience.