Branagh brings intriguing Poirot to life

Kenneth Branagh directs and stars in the remake of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.

BY RYAN MACKETT


AGATHA Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is the latest remake to come out of Hollywood. The novel was first published in 1934, and there have been numerous adaptations and on-screen versions of the source material (most notably the 1974 film from director Sidney Lumet). This time around, the immensely talented Kenneth Branagh pulls double duty as director as well as starring as Christie’s iconic detective, Hercule Poirot.

The plot of this whodunit involves a murder on the titular train, which just so happens to be carrying the legendary Poirot who is then left with trying to figure out who committed the crime.

Branagh was terrific as Poirot, playing him with a humorous quirkiness that cut through the darker, tenser moments of the story. The rest of the cast was portrayed by an incredibly talented group of Hollywood stars, including Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer and Willem Dafoe.

What was surprising to me, however, was how little the film utilized these great talents. I would have liked a slightly longer runtime if it meant a touch more character development for each of these under-utilized but potentially interesting characters. That being said, having so many big names play seemingly random, inconsequential characters really did help with providing many different potential red herrings to the audience.

The film was shot exquisitely and looked breathtaking. This is thanks to the fact that Branagh shot the movie on 65-millimetre film, which showcased the impressive work of cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos.

While the movie didn’t completely blow me away by any stretch of the imagination, it was extremely entertaining and kept me enthralled and guessing the whole time. Admittedly, I have not read the book, nor have I seen any of the other adaptations so I was going in fresh. The pacing was decent, however it was a bit of a slow-burn so don’t expect immense action set-pieces or anything like that.

By the end of the film, I was yearning for more of the adventures of Hercule Poirot. Fortunately, there are 13 seasons of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, which ran from 1989 to 2014 and starred David Suchet as the super sleuth. I would, however, love to see another cinematic adventure starring Branagh in the role. I feel as though the quality of the film and Branagh’s performance may lead to another big-screen interpretation.

Overall, this is a delightful film that will undoubtedly entertain for a few hours this holiday season.

Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at tbaymovieguy@gmail.com.

Recommended for you