Kenneth Branagh is both behind and in front of the camera for this latest adaptation of the Agatha Christie classic tale, Murder On The Orient Express.
Whilst it is stuck, there is a murder. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying it is Johnny Depp who pops his clogs and thus exits the film no sooner than he’s entered it and uttered a few words.
This makes everyone onboard, within a carriage or two, a suspect. We have: Willem Dafoe (The Great Wall, Spider-Man), Sergei Polunin (Peter And The Wolf (TV), Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (TV)), Derek Jacobi (Gladiator, Stratton), Josh Gad (Frozen, Beauty And The Beast), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mr Selfridge (TV)), Olivia Colman (The Lobster, Broadchurch (TV)), Penelope Cruz (Grimsby, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven, From Dusk Till Dawn (TV)), Judi Dench (Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Spectre), Leslie Odom Jr. (Red Tails, Law & Order (TV)), Michelle Pfeiffer (Scarface, Mother!), Lucy Boynton (Sing Street, Don’t Knock Twice), Marwan Kenzari (The Mummy, Ben-Hur) and Tom Bateman (Snatched, Jekyll & Hyde).
Poirot interviews everyone onboard, finding secrets and lies at every turn and fingers pointing all over the place.
Then he does what he always does, he gathers everyone outside, in the freezing cold, and takes us all through the answer. I wonder if any detective, ever, has actually done that?
Murder On The Orient Express is a travesty on three fronts. In the first instance, we have a small confined space that is jam-packed full of brilliant actors and yet they are all as confined as the space they find themselves in.
The second is the story itself. There is no doubting the fantastic writer Agatha Christie was and if you’re not much of a reader, the many TV versions of her books can attest to this.
Here though, somehow, Branagh and writer Michael Green (Logan, Blade Runner 2049) have managed to make the story dull, so dull. I had about as much interest as the story progressed as Branagh seemed to have in shooting anything other than himself.
The third is the character of Poirot, played brilliantly by David Suchet on British TV for so long, He is the base for people like Sherlock and House, a neurotic detective who misses nothing and sees everything. Yet Branagh can’t make him work, he’s not intense enough, not neurotic enough, not odd enough.
Occasionally, Branagh drops his fake Belgium accent and you hear the Britishness come through, which is a little comical. That’s about the only comedy in the film, which is some doing. To take the heart, soul, mystery and comedy out of an Agatha Christie book.
I don’t know what went wrong here. With the cast and the writing it should have been spectacular. When I saw the trailer I was so excited, I thought it looked amazing.
Perhaps the world just isn’t write for Poirot, preferring to Marvel our way out of trouble instead. Which makes the ending worrying, open as it is for a sequel.
If you’ve read the book or had the pleasure of viewing any of the, usually BBC, adaptations I wouldn’t waste your pennies on seeing this.
This isn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the final time, that the trailer and hype for a film is so much better than the film itself.