Release Date: November 10, 2017
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Michael Green, Agatha Christie
Cast: Paapa Essiedu, Yassine Zeroual, Asan N’Jie, Michael Rouse, Kenneth Branagh, Elliot Levey, David Annen, Joseph Long, Andy Apollo, Hadley Fraser, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr. Ziad Abaza, Nari Blair-Mangat, Luke Brady, Miltos Yerolemou, Tom Bateman, Kathryn Wilder, Gerard Horan, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Penelope Cruz, Richard Clifford, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, Sid Sagar, Sergei Polunin, Adam Garcia, Lucy Boynton, Marwan Kenzari, Michelle Pfeiffer, Harry Lister Smith, Darryl Clark, Anoushka Lucas, Matthew Hawksley, Crispin Letts, Yasmin Harrison, Kate Tydman, Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Willem Dafoe, Pip Jordan, Chris Porter, Jack Riddiford, Joshua Lacey, Phil Dunster, Miranda Raison, Ansu Kabia, Hayat Kamille, Rami Nasr, Todd Boyce, Irfan Shamji
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 114 minutes
Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox, Genre Films (as Kinberg Genre), Kinberg Genre, The Mark Gordon Company, Scott Free Productions, Latina Pictures, The Estate of Agatha Christie
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Country: Malta, USA
Based on the book of the same name written by Agatha Christie, Kenneth Branagh (Cinderella, Thor), took on both roles as the director, and main star of the titled film crafting his 2017 version. In his past work, he’s been known for creating a vivid world of wonder, and magic that draws you right in, and he did the same here for at least half of the runtime. This is the fourth adaptation of Christie’s novel, following a 1974 film, a 2001 TV film, and a 2010 episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. The cast is stellar, but the performances don’t match up as you may have wanted. The mystery is there, but I wasn’t dying to it either. It’s an unbalanced film that still has its redeeming qualities, but it is obvious now, my expectations were much higher than they should’ve been.
This is a period piece during the 1930’s with majority of the film taking place on the train The Orient Express. The set designed is quite detailed with extravagant decor from top to bottom on every inch of the train. The movement of the camera throughout each corridor captured each character in a unique way which provided interesting glimpses to their makeup and design. The characters themselves weren’t as interesting as I would’ve have wanted. While they looked nice on screen, there wasn’t much that intrigued me to know more about their history. If I had to give you an assessment of each of all their characteristics, I would fail miserably, though without shame.
Though the most interesting of them all was the main lead, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh). He was the standout character in this film. I loved everything about him dearly. Even his wild mustache spoke volumes and added so much to his character. He was the definition of the word peculiar, with everything having to be exact to the millimeter, or he would crumble into pieces. It was cute to see and exciting to watch all at the same time. He was a humble man, with an infinite amount of confidence, and there was no detail that went overlooked when he was around. Branagh’s performance was a top notch, with his acting being as good as acting could possibly be. What stood out in his delivery, was his tone jumping back and forth throughout the film, as a goofy mysterious man enjoying every moment of life, to a frustrated fellow filled with rage and desperation. I soaked in every instance of passion he threw into the role, and am overjoyed I got to be a part of it.
If only the rest of the film could’ve been as enjoyable as Branagh’s performance, no other actor/actress performed poorly, but it was all very forgettable. This is disappointing with the extensive list of A-list celebrities that were present. While the set design was spectacular on the inside of the train, during the passenger’s voyage, everything on the outside needed a ton of work. None of it felt real, especially the cgi or the train, and mountains tops in the background. There was one scene in a small cave that looked as if it belonged to a stage in a high school play. While already losing interest in the so-called mystery, this instance clocked me out of the film entirely.
At the time the revelation of who the real culprit was came around, I wasn’t show or at all cared. I was just happy that the film was nearly over from my lack of interest, or during some moments of investigation and the feeling of boredom that was on the rise. This isn’t a film you should steer away from because there are moments to enjoy, but just for my particular taste, it didn’t do much for me, leaving me unsatisfied, still wanted so much more.