Famous detective Hercule Poirot is called upon to solve
a murder that occurs on the train he is traveling on.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Written by Michael Green
Starring Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Michelle Pfeiffer,
Penélope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Willem Dafoe,
Josh Gad, Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Sergei Polunin, Lucy Boynton, Marwan Kenzari
Remake of 1974's Murder on the Orient Express
Based on the novel by Agatha Christie
Even before I saw this film, I knew it wouldn't hold a candle to the original classic. The previews reeked of modernization and a callous attempt to "sex up" a simple story that didn't need to be revisited. It had been done well enough once before. 2017's Murder on the Orient Express ended up being a decent enough adaptation that comes surprisingly close to being as good as the 1974 version. What tripped it up in the end were the unnecessary action sequences and the glossing over of important plot points that were rather large revelations in both the novel and the original film. I mean, if you're going to remake a classic, wouldn't you want to get it right?
Kenneth Branagh is actually a very entertaining Hercule Poirot. He brings a certain compulsiveness and the hint of past demons to the role, making it his own. The supporting cast, stellar though it is, never quite measures up to the original's. Only a few characters are given their moment to shine, whereas in the original, everybody was important. This time around, a lot more focus is put on the evil Mr. Ratchett, played by Johnny Depp. Three guesses why this character got more screentime. Then, the characters of Hildegard Schmidt (Olivia Colman), and the Count and Countess Andrenyi (Sergei Polunin and Lucy Boynton respectively) are barely in the story, despite being major characters crucial to the big reveal. The omission of important clues caused the vital information to be forced into Poirot's third-act summation, at which point they just felt like secondary thoughts.
The addition of unnecessary CGI only helped the film ensure that it would one day become dated, which the original never did. While I did enjoy it for the most part, Murder on the Orient Express never feels as passionate or sardonic as its predecessor, despite a great performance from Branagh and a decent vision that attempts to add a little weight to Poirot's motivations and history. Maybe repeat viewings will help this remake grow into its own, but right now it's not quite up to snuff.