When looking for a newer film to review, Carmella suggested Murder on the Orient Express. While I usually don’t like reviewing remakes before the originals, I figured I’d give this one a shot. After all, there’s nothing like a bit of surprise in a murder mystery, is there?
But would this remake, starring a stellar ensemble cast – including Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer and Willem Dafoe – be worth our time? Or would this be another one of those remakes where the pieces just don’t add up?
Kenneth Branagh takes center stage as the famous detective Hercule (not Hercules) Poirot. He always manages his best performances when he’s both in front and behind the cameras, and Murder on the Orient Express is no exception. His quirky Poirot is slightly reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes (as all great detectives should be), but different enough to not confuse the two. He makes the role his own right from the start, and viewers would be hard pressed to see anyone else in the role at all.
The rest of the cast in Murder on the Orient Express is also top-notch. Johnny Depp seems the weakest link in this ensemble, and that’s just because the rest are so go good. Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns (1992)) makes an especially strong comeback (where has she been lately?), and Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)) is nigh unrecognizable in this cast. Everyone, from Josh Gad to Willem Dafoe to Penelope Cruz (none of whom have been exactly site favorites in the past) are on point, and it’s always nice when an ensemble cast can come together like this. Together, they elevate their separate performances to something better.
The plot is entertaining while containing a bit of a throwback feel. Murder on the Orient Express is a rather descriptive title, and that’s exactly what occurs in the film. On board a train called the Orient Express, a murder occurs. Thankfully, the great detective Hercule Poirot is on board, and while the train is snowbound, he investigates to determine the culprit.
Sounds simple enough, right? It is…at least at first. But, as the investigation progresses, things get much more complicated, and the viewer should stay engrossed from the first frame of Murder on the Orient Express to the last. Honestly, it’s a pity this is a remake, as it’s one of the first whodunit’s in a while that isn’t easy to guess. Guess sometimes it pays to have missed the original, hmmmm?
With a stellar cast lead by Kenneth Branagh in a standout performance, Murder on the Orient Express should draw you in with it’s star-studded cast, and keep you riveted with it’s sharp directing and solid storyline. Like any good murder mystery should, this one will keep you guessing up until the big reveal – and it’s well worth the wait.
If you have seen the original, try to forget as much as you can about it, and enjoy Murder on the Orient Express as a standalone film. You’ll find yourself enjoying it immensely.