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  • Writer's pictureGuy Jeffries

Murder on the Orient Express

Director: Kenneth Branagh.

Agatha Christie is still currently the best-selling novelist of all time, selling an estimated 2 billion copies of her work and being the most translated, in 103 languages, surpassing her own inspirations of previous detective writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins. One of her most famous creations is the famous, egg-shaped-headed Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot who features in 33 of Christie’s novels with Murder on the Orient Express not being the first or last of, but certainly one of the most popular and go-to reads of hers.

But does Branagh fit the bill? Not only directing and producing the picture, but also taking the lead role. Apparently there was a backlash from hardcore fans; something to do with his moustache, and I feel my generation of fans envision David Suchet’s portrayal of Poirot as being the pinnacle vision. This isn’t the first adaptation, spawning more than one full length feature, TV movies and episodes; even a computer game.

With this in mind, audiences are expected to recognise Poirot’s incredible and egotistical reputation for being, as self-stated, “probably the greatest detective in the world.” Which places his crime-solving genius in constant demand to solve high profile cases across the globe; setting the premise for this intriguing murder mystery. Also, taking on such a grand and much-loved story is quite a feat and must have put on a huge amount of pressure on all involved.

Poirot is wanting to take a much needed vacation and recuperate his brilliance but is suddenly summoned to London to solve another case which puts him on the famed Orient Express train among an assembly of eccentric characters from all walks of life. Obviously, one of these characters is murdered leaving the remainder of the crew and passengers as suspects and urging Poirot to put his attempted rest on hold and solve the murder before the train reaches it’s next destination.

I’ve found this film difficult to judge as I can’t fault the production, the direction or the cast’s performances but it does lack any great suspense and tension which is what is expected from this character’s story. It’s not boring, but it doesn’t quite spike my intrigue to the level of excitement and the film hovers at this level for the majority of it’s duration. I say majority, as the opening introduction actually sets the character up really well, but sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t show off Poirot’s excellence. In fact, I actually started to doubt him as his lucky stumblings far outweighed his genius.

Sadly I don’t believe Branagh has done Christine or Poirot any great justice. Im not saying it’s a terrible film because it isn’t, but a story of this scale should have had me leaving the screen amazed, even with the stellar cast, there’s really nothing spectacular about it. And this might not be Branagh’s only outing as the famous detective; but we shall see.

Running Time: 7

The Cast: 8

Performance: 7

Direction: 7

Story: 7

Script: 7

Creativity: 7

Soundtrack: 6

Job Description: 6

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

62% 6/10

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