Murder on the Orient Express: Running Out of Steam

Lifestyle and Culture Editor, Bella Davis, sheds light on the latest celebrity filled Agatha Christie adaptation and whether it lives up to its famous cast list. 

Behold, Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, the latest film adaptation of the 1934 detective mystery written by Agatha Christie. To say ‘a star-studded’ cast when you have the likes of Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Coleman and Branagh himself is an understatement. Looking over the cast list you get swept away with excitement at the thought of such accomplished actors/actresses teaming together and it is easy to see why there have been such high expectations for the 65mm shot film.

The problem here is not with the plot itself but the fact that Branagh is trying to recreate arguably one of the most famous mystery novels, bringing it to a screen near you. As a Christie fan myself I knew I had high expectations and I wish I had gone into the cinema with more of an open-mind. With my father asleep on one side of me and my little sister who doesn’t know the storyline on the other, getting wrapped up into a murder mystery where you already know the murderer is a tall order. But I take my hat off to Branagh as I managed to sit through the film without checking the time on my phone as a result of the sheer beauty and cinematic quality of Murder on the Orient Express.

Murder on the Orient Express tells the story of Hercule Poirot (Branagh) a renowned Belgian detective seeking some down time after his most recent solved case. However, it would not be a good storyline if his wishes came true. What happens next is a chance encounter with an old friend who offers him a place on the Orient Express, a bloody murder, and a long list of suspects amongst stunning alpine scenery, lavish art deco interiors and mouth-watering food. The real question is, who is the killer? Now I don’t want to give everything away but I will tell you one thing, Poirot is just about the only person who isn’t a murderer.

To be brutally honest, the scenery far outshines the all-star cast. I felt that the talent of the cast was barely tapped into and I really think this was because there was simply too many stars (and I wouldn’t say that often). It is clear that Branagh has a lot of fun with his character but I can’t quite say the same for the rest. While the storyline is gripping, I just don’t think the 5th adaptation quite got ahead of steam. I had more fun watching The Graham Norton Show the night after where Norton talks to the cast about everything Orient Express related.

(Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox)