Murder on the Orient Express – Listen very carefully; I shall review this only once!
The film centres around… yes, a murder, on the train known as the Orient Express. Bet that surprised you, eh?
Someone has died, and someone is going to be fingered for the crime. And who better to do the fingering than possibly the best detective in the entire world – Hercule Poirot, portrayed by Kenneth Branagh, obviously concentrating too much on directing not to notice his dodgy ‘Franglais’ Belgian accent bordering on Allo Allo territory, plus you can’t miss his ridiculous moustache, which he even ‘puts to bed’ in one scene.
However, first, there’s a brief scene at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem where someone has stolen a priceless relic and the culprit will be one of a rabbi, priest and an imam (yes, he beats us all to the ‘walked into a pub’ joke, on that one), although he hasn’t sussed that all three of the roles are played by British actors we’ve seen in small roles, previously, and don’t look like they hail from those parts at all.
Once that’s all done, it’s on to the big train where we have to go through the laborious process where each character must meet each other, since they start as a baker’s dozen of strangers, but will soon be whittled down to a regular dozen. These include racist professor Gerhard Hardman (Willem Dafoe), art dealer Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp), his secretary Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad), plus Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench with another dodgy accent) and her assistant, Hildegarde Schmidt (Olivia Colman, possibly the only actor in this who’s NOT phoning their accent in).
Throw in lush landscapes and long, impressive tracking shots – plus some overhead – before the train is derailed by an avalanche which leads into the aforementioned offing of a passenger, plus how no-one entered the deceased’s carriage while the conductor was keeping guard for the whole night, and with lots of clues, and lots of interviews, this film feels very drawn out, and the only mystery is why the main mystery wasn’t told in half the time.
However, I liked Poirot’s line to one individual with a runaway gob, “You have a head full of steam and a mouth full of words”.
The movie also hints at a sequel, which would lead to Death on the Nile, so if this movie takes enough money, then you know what’ll hit cinemas in November 2019/2020.
However, for those who have seen this already, I will add one thing that annoyed me which I’ll put under a spoiler heading, so if you’re going to the cinema soon, DO NOT CLICK ON IT!
Murder on the Orient Express is available to pre-order on Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray, Amazon Prime and DVD, and click on the poster for the full-size version. And it’s the poster I picked up from Odeon Trafford Centre on the opening day.
Running time: 114 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Cinema: Odeon, Trafford Centre
Format: 2.35:1 (Panavision Super 70)
Released: November 3rd 2017
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Producers: Kenneth Branagh, Mark Gordon, Judy Hofflund, Simon Kinberg, Michael Schaefer and Ridley Scott
Screenplay: Michael Green (based upon the novel by Agatha Christie)
Music: Patrick Doyle
Hercule Poirot: Kenneth Branagh
Miss Mary Debenham: Daisy Ridley
Dr. Arbuthnot: Leslie Odom Jr
Bouc: Tom Bateman
Aynesworth: Gerard Horan
Biniamino Marquez: Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
Pilar Estravados: Penélope Cruz
Maître d’: Richard Clifford
Hector MacQueen: Josh Gad
Edward Ratchett: Johnny Depp
Edward Henry Masterman: Derek Jacobi
Countess Elena Andrenyi: Lucy Boynton
Pierre Michel: Marwan Kenzari
Caroline Hubbard: Michelle Pfeiffer
Stockman: Harry Lister Smith
Princess Dragomiroff: Judi Dench
Hildegarde Schmidt: Olivia Colman
Gerhard Hardman: Willem Dafoe
Colonel John Armstrong: Phil Dunster
Sonia Armstrong: Miranda Raison
Count Rudolph Andrenyi: Sergei Polunin
Prostitute: Kathryn Wilder
Italian Fan: Adam Garcia
Rabbi: Elliot Levey
Priest: David Annen
Imam: Joseph Long
Armed Policeman: Andy Apollo
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.