Rating: M
Main Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp.
Genre: Drama, mystery
Running Time: 114 MIN
Opulence of a bygone era, beautifully realised and interestingly peopled that is the Orient Express and from that description I could be talking about the new Kenneth Branagh movie or the train itself.
Filmed on some of the same 65mm cameras as Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, which director and star Kenneth Branagh had acted in just before this movie, this film has a beautiful old-fashioned feel aimed at being opulent and all-encompassing more than thrilling.
Sweeping shots from above and from outside looking in are at times slightly sick-making but also set the scene.
It’s an oft told story of 13 strangers on a train where everyone is a suspect and the world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot – the mustachioed Belgium with OCD, is racing against time to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.
Taken from the 1934 Agatha Christie book and a remake of the 1974 movie classic and the more recent David Suchet television movie, this was always going to be a tough sell particularly for critics who know the story and have seen it all before. But they obviously aren’t the target audience.
With an all-star cast which includes Daisy Ridley (Star Wars), Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast) and Johnny Depp and plenty of beautiful CGI rendering of old Istanbul etc, this one is firmly aimed at Agatha Christie fans, Millennials and people who just want to see a beautifully made movie.
Branagh brings a lot of heart to this Poirot and a bit more (but still obtuse) backstory (he’s great once you get used to the badger he is wearing on his lip) while Michelle Pfeiffer is at her best as a merry widow with a secret and Ridley and Leslie Odom Jr as the governess and doctor respectively stand out in a cast anyone would be envious of.
The weak link is Depp who, once again, goes way over the top as a gangster turned art dealer turning him into a bit of a cartoon of the real thing (but that is what you usually get with Depp).
Ultimately this is a beautifully shot, mildly suspenseful, heart-filled movie, with lots of clever camera angles and snow.
The climactic reveal with its “last supper in a tunnel” setting pulls it all together nicely.
– Tania Phillips

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