I mostly went to Murder on the Orient Express on the basis of the trailer, which showed a big cast of luvvie actors who seemed to be having an infectiously fun time together. Some of the names in the credits: Michelle Pfeiffer, Derek Jacobi, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley and Penélope Cruz. The main force behind the film is Kenneth Branagh who directs and stars as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. Poirot is a Belgian detective, renowned for his talent of noticing anything out of sorts, which both makes him great at solving crimes as well as generally hard to please. The mesmerizing mustache he sports in this movie almost serves as a separate character.
Poirot finds himself amidst intrigue while travelling on the titular Orient Express, having to solve the murder of one of his fellow passengers while the train is stalled, before it can reach its final destination and the suspects will escape out into the world. Being a classic crime story, it is hard to judge it on the basis of suspense, as you may already know ‘whodunit’ because of the original book by Agatha Christie (1934) or because of the classic, star-studded movie version from 1974 (Starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Vanessa Redgrave, Sean Connery and Anthony Perkins, among others.) I had seen that movie years ago and had a very vague – but correct – recollection of what went down. The truth of the matter is a bit far-fetched and convoluted, but seems oddly inevitable. Even if coming to the movie without foreknowledge, your deductive skills may beat the detective to the punchline, barring some details.
But then, the whodunit aspect is only part of the fun. I was entertained watching the sympathetic cast at play, though it didn’t get me as giddy as the short burst of the trailer did. As an adaptation of the classic Christie story it is just fine. Not amazing, not a classic, but definitely engrossing enough to be worth watching. If only for that mustache.