Tony's Take

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS review

Everyone Is a Suspect

“His name is Hercule Poirot and he is probably the greatest detective in the World”; at least that is how we are (re)introduced to the renown mustached-investigator in Kenneth Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express”.  After solving a case of missing holy items in Jerusalem, Detective Poirot is offered a case in London while waiting in Istanbul, so he must find last-minute passage by way of the Orient Express.  On board, a colorful and diverse cast of characters await to accompany Poirot on his journey across Europe.  But one night, an avalanche traps the train on a cliff.  While they are stranded, they soon discover that a passenger has been murdered and that the murderer must still be on-board.  It just so happens that the World’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot, is aboard the Orient Express and he has made it his sole responsibility to solve the murder case.

Kenneth Branagh pulls double duty as both director of the film and as the loveable Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot.  Penélope Cruz plays Pilar Estravados, a missionary seeking to help the unfortunate.  Willem Dafoe plays an Austrian professor who is attempting to make it to Turin for a conference.  Dame Judi Dench plays Princess Dragomiroff.  Johnny Depp plays the sly and manipulative art dealer, Edward Ratchett.  Josh Gad plays Hector MacQueen, Ratchett’s accountant.  Derek Jacobi plays Edward Henry Masterman, Ratchett’s valet.  Leslie Odom Jr. plays Dr. Arbuthnot, a physician from London.  Daisy Ridley plays Mary Debenham, a Governess.  Michelle Pfeiffer plays Caroline Hubbard, a seductive passenger on-board the Orient Express.  Marwan Kenzari plays Pierre Michel, the Orient Express’ conductor.  Olivia Colman plays Princess Dragomiroff’s valet, Hildegarde Schmidt.  Lucy Boynton and Sergei Polunin plays the Countess Elena Andrenyi and Count Rudolph Andrenyi.  Tom Bateman plays the train’s Director, Bouc.  Manuel Garcia-Rulfo plays an American businessman, Biniamino Marquez.  Miranda Raison has a brief role as Sonia Armstrong.

“Murder on the Orient Express” beautifully-utilizes the source material while making fresh and original changes along the way, proving that cinema truly is timeless; making a decades-old tale new-and-exciting for this and future generations!  Hercule Poirot has to be one of the Top 20 literary (and film) characters of all time, and Kenneth Branagh not only executes his role, but he also gives us a film that would make Agatha Christie proud!  A contained-setting feels infinitely larger due to the fine character exposition and strategically-placed clues.  The film largely soars due to its impressive cast!  With too many to name, each one brings charisma and charm to their role that makes you hope this ride never ends.  “Murder on the Orient Express” boasts visually-appealing cinematography as well, largely-due to the 65mm cameras (the same ones used to film “Dunkirk”) that were used to capture the breathtaking landscapes.  Branagh also uses obscure camera angles to intrigue the viewer, as well as including subtle filmmaking tricks to confuse them.  One of the most beautiful elements of the film is the dialog.  The film serves as a great reminder to the power of the English language; and how elegant and charming it can be when spoken correctly and with sincerity and pleasantness.  Truly a breath-of-fresh-air in today’s cinema.  If “Murder on the Orient Express” is lacking in any category, it’s with its pacing.  While I didn’t mind its’ slow-building tension, I can see how some people would become aggravated that it wasn’t progressing quickly enough.  The film’s ending also seems a bit convoluted but you can form your own opinion without any spoilers!  “Murder on the Orient Express” has a run time of 114 minutes and it does slightly drag without getting stale as the case is solved.  I cannot recall the last time recent cinema has given us a film so charming and intriguing!  Branagh has truly brought Agatha Christie’s vision to life once again; and he’s ready to entertain a whole new generation!  The ending teases another one of his most famous cases, so I sincerely hope to see Hercule Poirot on-screen again!

“Murder on the Orient Express” follows the Agatha Christie story as Hercule Poirot attempts to solve a murder on the train.  The film features a stunning cast, an intriguing and deeply-woven story, and beautiful cinematography and dialog.  If you are heading to the movies this weekend, hop on-board “Murder on the Orient Express”!!

 4/5      

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements, in theaters NOVEMBER 10TH!

 

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