Murder on the Orient Express makes for some great set pieces and period costumes but the whodunnit mystery doesn’t really need another adaptation.
Director Kenneth Branagh, working from a screenplay written by Michael Green, has gathered an all-star cast but with so many suspects, there’s a major fight for screen time.
A Rabbi, a Priest, and an Imam walk up to the Western Wall in Jerusalem and despite the making of a classic joke, there’s not a single bar as the film starts out. It makes for a funny introduction to famed detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) and perhaps the funniest scene in the film as a result. But for a film such as this one with so many damn murder suspects, the character introductions, let alone interactions between them, take up a massive amount of time.
When wealthy businessman, Edward Ratchett, (Johnny Depp) mysteriously shows up dead, it’s up to the detective to figure out the case for only the fourth on-screen adaptation in the English language. There’s a handful of suspects who had the motivation to kill him, including Ratchett’s secretary Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad), butler Edward Masterson (Derek Jacobi), widow Caroline Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer), missionary Pilar Estravados (Penelope Cruz), Professor Gerhard Hardman (Willem Dafoe), Countess Andrenyi (Lucy Boynton), Count Andrenyi (Sergei Polunin), Russian Princess Natalia Dragomiroff (Judi Dench), maid Hildegarde Schmidt (Olivia Coleman), governess Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley), Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jr.), manager Bouc (Tom Bateman), train conductor Pierre Michel (Marwan Kenzari), red herring and new character Biniamino Marquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo).
As far the film adaptations of the classic Agatha Christie novel is concerned, one of the few positives are taking advantage of the modern-day CGI technology at hand. That’s as far as any positive remarks on the film go. The first hour was slowly paced and the action speeds up in the second hour as it’s interrogation after interrogation.
Because of Amber Heard’s abuse allegations against actor Johnny Depp, it’s reason enough to not recommend seeing this film. Couldn’t Depp have been recast in the role by someone else? Ridley Scott is one of the film’s producers and while the acclaimed director has no problem with recasting Kevin Spacey with actor Christopher Plummer with just over a month to go before All The Money In The World is set to be released, they didn’t do the same with Depp’s character.
Twentieth Century Fox opens Murder on the Orient Express in theaters on November 10, 2017.