Sunday, November 26, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express

Movie Name: Murder on the Orient Express
Year of Release: 2017
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Derek Jacobi, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Odom Jr., Leslie Odom Jr., Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Tom Bateman, Josh Gad, Phil Dunster, Marwan Kenzari, Lucy Boynton, Sergei Polunin
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
View Trailer

Director Kenneth Branagh is back, following his latest big hit for Disney, "Cinderella". This time around, the actor/director tackles the adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel, that was previously adapted to the big screen in 1974, by Sidney Lumet, and had an equally impressive cast that included Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall and Sean Connery. The film follows the adventures of Hercule Poirot, as he embarks the Orient Express to be taken to a case that needs to be solved in London. During the journey, Poirot comes to know all the passengers, including Samuel Ratchett, who offers him a very generous amount of money to be his personal bodyguard, since he fears for his safety. That same evening, much to everyone's shock, he appears murdered in his cabin, with twelve stab wounds. It's up to Poirot to use his logical and illustrious mind to solve the complicated case.
Agatha Christie's novels and in particular her character Poirot have been adapted and transposed to the screens on multiple occasions. This one hailing from Kenneth Branagh, features a strong and diversified cast, and the film definitely benefits from robust production values, but even upon its start, is a film that is riddled with an artificial tone and feel that never quite manages to be resolved. The film, much like the mustache that Branagh uses for the duration of the film, feels bloated and excessively manicured, never really allowing for any of the characters to exist, much less allowing for any of the viewers to create any empathy with the events that have unraveled on the train. It's a film that has a sterling array of great actors, and yet they get very little bandwidth to really expand on the motivations for their characters. They become nothing more than small anecdotes, and therefore difficult to care much about their outcome. It's a film that could potentially feel claustrophobic, since it takes place on a train, yet that angle is never really sufficiently used (though the cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos is beautiful). The great cast has nothing much to do, though it's always fantastic to see Michelle Pfeiffer and Judi Dench dialing it up a notch. A forgettable endeavor from an irregular director.