Kenneth Branagh has had an illustrious career since the early 90’s, bursting onto the scene with shockingly well directed movies such as Henry V, Dead Again and Much Ado about Nothing. He has proven to be as versatile an actor as he is a director. It is easy to see how MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS would have been his crowning achievement … and almost is.
Based on one of the best-selling mystery writers of all time, Agatha Christie, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS tells the story of a famous Belgian Detective named Hercule Poirot who is thrown into the middle of a murder mystery while seeking a holiday on a train ride. Although the amount of suspects is relatively small, they each appear to have a motive and Poirot soon realizes this is the most difficult case he has ever faced.
The cast is absolutely unbelievable. How can you go wrong with names like Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Daisy Ridley? The short answer is in terms of acting, you don’t. There is not a single poor or unconvincing performance in the whole film. And Branagh gives himself the very meaty role of Poirot and knocks it as far out of the park as one could.
The film is hampered by some lackluster production values. Apparently there was not a lot of confidence in the film because the visual effects are very see-through. Almost every outside sequence, you can see very clearly the blue-screen in the background. They must have run out of money because the train set itself is amazing, if there are any visual effects used in the interior, they don’t show. There is a rather amazing tracking shot of the camera going through the entire train and it is breathtaking.
For as perfect as it is, the film just doesn’t quite reach the pinnacle at the end that it needed. The ending is satisfactory but not astoundingly so.
All this aside, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is definitely worth seeing in the theater and you will be thoroughly engaged by outstanding performances and tight story-telling.