A majority of the bit roles are played by actors who were at one time or another members of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, who also directs and stars in Murder on the Orient Express (2017). Members include Michael Rouse (who plays a British Police Chief Inspector in 'Murder'), Paapa Essiedu (Young Policeman), Hadley Fraser (British Military Escort), Kathryn Wilder (a prostitute), and Matthew Hawksley (Waiter on the Orient Express), just to name a few. See more »
There are prominent product placements for Godiva Chocolatier in the film, however they are using the modern logo rather than the more ornate one which would be correct for the 1930s. Further, prior to the 1950s Godiva only had one store (in Brussels), making it unlikely that the chocolate would be available on a train journey from Turkey to France. See more »
If you have any affection for Sidney Lumet's 1974's stellar version of "Murder On the Orient Express", do not bother watching this new version, you will be very disappointed. Even the poster reflects an uninteresting tone, the font used is modern and lacks any sense of style.
Kenneth Branagh is a great director and actor that has given us some memorable films, unfortunately "Murder On the Orient Express" isn't one of them.
At last night's screening of "Murder On the Orient Express" I had to use the restroom after about 40 minutes. As I reentered the theater the person entering with me asked me "Do you think this movie will ever get started?" I said "I don't know; I guess we'll have to see." It caught fire way to late, in about the last 20 minutes.
Indeed, the movie had a painfully slow start, with a completely overproduced prologue that seemed quite unnecessary. The introduction of the characters is messy and it becomes rather confusing as to who they are. The cast is full of great actors, but so few are able to "shine" in this production.
Kenneth Branagh is an interesting Hercule Poirot, he seems to be trying way too hard, and for me somehow he never "owned it." The extremely grotesque mustache seemed to get in the way
Michelle Pfeiffer, as Mrs. Hubbard is lackluster and quite flat, until the last 20 minutes where she does get a chance to shine, but by then it's too late, but it's not her fault.
Derek Jacobi, one of our greatest actors is so misdirected in this version that he delivers an insipid performance. Penelope Cruz walks through a part that gained Ingrid Bergman an Oscar in the original, again not their fault.
Interestingly enough, it is Johnny Depp who gives the best performance. He embodies his character with the right amount of vile corruptness, and sleaziness that brings life to the screen. He also has the most interesting costumes in the movie.
Judi Dench is elegant and funny but her companion played by Olivia Coleman, who usually turns in stellar performances is totally uninteresting here, again not her fault.
The production is indeed rich and elegant in its production design, and cinematography. The costumes however are fine, but lack a certain panache and glamour we have grown to admire in past Agatha Christie films, such as those designed by Tony Walton, and Anthony Powell. Alexandra Byrne is an extraordinary designer, but somehow it feels like the concept was to be subtle and "real". She needed to be bold and adventurous like her work on the "Elizabeth" films with Cate Blanchette.
The musical score vacillates from very generic, to frantic and never finds the right tone, never providing a sense of mystery and suspense. Only when true vintage songs are incorporated does the atmosphere come alive.
Kenneth Branagh is such a gifted filmmaker, it is sad to see this film fall short. He is in almost every frame, perhaps he would have crafted a better film if he was not in it. As the conductor of this train, he did not provide an elegant journey with wit and great character development for one of Agatha Christie's finest stories.
77 of 121 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?