Murder on the Orient Express (2017): Movie Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews 

Murder on the Orient Express is the latest rendition of Agatha Christie’s 1934 classic detective novel of the same name that has previously been adapted thrice—Sidney Lumet’s 1974 film, Stephen Harrigan’s 2001 TV film, and a 2010 episode of the British television series titled Agatha Chistie’s Poirot. The latest adaptation, based on a screenplay by Michael Green, is directed by Kenneth Branagh who also essays the part of Christie’s iconic sleuth Hercule Poirot. The film co-stars the likes of Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley. Set in the 1930s, the film follows Poirot as he tries to unravel a murder mystery on a famous European train. The film had its Indian premiere at the 48th IFFI.

Remakes and renditions often give rise to debates, especially when a classic work is involved. While there are those who see it as a futile exercise, there are others who are excited by it. One major advantage, of course, is that the younger generations get introduced to classic works. Besides, there is a greater scope for technical innovations, which, if used properly, can immensely enhance the storytelling. But, at the same time, the expectations are so high that often the end product can prove to be somewhat underwhelming despite being superior in quality to the earlier adaptations.

While looking at the Lumet’s version of the Agatha Christie’s bestseller it becomes quite obvious that its USP is its gamut of colourful characters. The dream-like ensemble cast led by the likes of Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Vanessa Redgrave, and Albert Finney is another major strong point of the movie. But what of the Kenneth Branagh film? Well, as far as the ensemble cast is concerned, it looks quite solid. Branagh, Depp, Dafoe, Dench, and Pfeiffer are all seasoned performers with proven track records. However, with the exception of Branagh, no one really gets enough screen time to begin with. As a result, all the other characters fail to create the kind of impact that’s expected of them, especially in a film like this. Cruz, Dafoe and Dench are terribly underutilized. The two actors who stand out (i.e. other than Branagh) are Depp and Pfeiffer.      

Murder on the Orient Express is essentially a one-man show: Branagh as Poirot is an absolute treat to watch. The manner in which Poirot’s character is introduced is nothing short of brilliant. Branagh, who has directed and starred in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays including Henry V (1989) and Hamlet (1996), plays Poirot in a Shakespearean vein. His Poirot has a knack for theatrics and there are few performers alive who can beat Branagh at his own game. While his direction in the film may not be as impressive as his acting, it is certainly effective. The movie’s attention to period detail is striking. Haris Zambarloukos’ cinematography is absolutely breathtaking. The decision to shoot on a 65mm film proves to be the right one in the end. Also, the special effects immensely add to the overall appeal of the movie. Here is a film that has all the right ingredients but the recipe somewhere needed a little more fine-tuning.

Rating: 6/10

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!

Murder on the Orient Express - Official Trailer (YouTube)

People who liked this also liked...
Share on Google Plus


Post a Comment

Thanks for sharing for valuable opinion. We would be delighted to have you back.