Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express (2017), the second film adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, is mostly engaging but drags at times. The production values of the film are strong with a stunning set piece of the train and gorgeous costuming covering the performers who mostly do terrific. However, some of the staging seems a bit big or over dramatic and certain lines of dialogue come off as laughable.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017) has good moments
Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) has finished a case in Jerusalem and is looking to take a holiday when duty calls him back to London. Bouc (Tom Bateman) offers him a ticket on his train, the Orient Express. It’s here that the ensemble of characters are introduced that include in the cast Penélope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, and Willem Dafoe. Branagh does the heavy lifting leaving the rest to minimal screen time, but there are definitely some memorable performances from Ridley and Pfeiffer.
Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp) attempts to recruit Poirot to watch his back, but he refuses. Ratchett would later be murdered and in the same instant an avalanche halts the train in its tracks. This situation forces Poirot at the protest of Bouc to take on the investigation so the killer is known before the train is able to finish its journey. Ratchett’s room has too many clues that implement most of the twelve people on the train complicating the possibilities. Poirot sets out to uncover the mystery and find the killer.
Detective Poirot appears to be a little obsessive compulsive which is demonstrated early on with his insistence on his eggs being the exact same size. It’s later explained that he sees the world as it should be and these imperfections stand out making him a successful detective. His excessively large and well groomed mustache and his bluntness about his feeling are extremely entertaining. He is easily the highlight of the film and even when he’s interviewing the suspects what seem like random choices he is excellent.
Ultimately, the film is enjoyable but suffers in some areas. There is one moment where a character exclaims “Why aren’t you dead yet,” and it felt unbelievable cheesy. Yet, it’s definitely not a bad film despite some of the odd camera choices Branagh used to tell it. Murder on the Orient Express earns the Decent Watch rating.