Murder On The Orient Express is a good old fashioned whodunnit that is a fun, entertaining and exciting film. I imagine that pitching this may have been a bit of a gamble, let’s face it this style of movie hasn’t really been a box office draw since the 70’s. Big screen adaptations of Agatha Christie novels were water cooler moments back in the days before water coolers, but for various reasons, the genre came and went.
Remember those all star cast productions, usually centered around a disaster, such as The Towering Inferno or Earthquake? You just don’t really see that sort of thing that often anymore, probably due to the cost of assembling a bunch of A list celebs these days. I dare say that many of the cast in Express, did the movie as a favor to Ken, or just to have the chance to work with him.
Kenneth Brannagh is obviously having a great time with this production, and his Hercule Poirot is a mix of Batman and Sherlock Holmes. The opening gambit at the site of the wailing wall, has Poirot solving an impossible crime, second guessing the villain, and capturing the culprit, all in the opening minutes. His need for a holiday leads him on board the Express, but of course trouble and murder are close behind.
The ensemble cast is wonderful, and you will probably spend most of the first reel playing spot the celeb. Everyone here is having a good time. From Dench to Pfeifer, all the characters are sketched out admirably, and the more Poirot learns about their past, the more we see of the dirty deed at hand.
The scenes on, and off the train are lovely. There are some smashing shots of the speeding locomotive driving through snow drenched terrain, reminiscent of The Polar Express, and the sets, costumes and props are all great to look at.
The only downside to the large cast, is they all have little screen time, but that is only to be expected.
Now I hate to admit that I was unaware of the book or earlier film versions but I was happy to play detective as the plot unfolded. It’s a great story, so if like me, you don’t know how it ends, avoid spoilers and go see it now and even if you know the ending, still pop along and see this, it’s great fun and worth a watch.