While the reviews were mixed, with many comparisons made to Sidney Lumet’s 1974 adaptation of the best-selling Agatha Christie whodunit, I decided to approach the 2017 version with an open mind.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Instead, I was impressed with director Kenneth Branagh who also took on the role of Hercule Poirot. Donning an exotic mustache, Branagh delivers an excellent performance as the finicky Belgian detective, famous for solving everything from elaborate murder plots to uneven boiled eggs. The all-star cast includes Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Penelope Cruz, Derek Jacobi, Willem Dafoe, and Daisy Ridley.
The storyline follows Poirot from Jerusalem to Istanbul to a lavish train ride on the Orient Express. After an unpleasant encounter with gangster Samuel Ratchett (Johnny Depp), Poirot retires for the evening. That night, Poirot hears strange noises coming from Ratchett’s compartment and later witnesses a woman in a red kimono running down the hallway. An avalanche occurs, causing the train to derail, stranding the passengers.
The following morning, Poirot learns that Ratchett was stabbed to death sometime during the night. While early clues suggest that Ratchett was murdered by a lone man, Poirot believes the solution to the crime lies within a single locked carriage containing twelve first-class passengers. As Poirot conducts his interviews, he uncovers a series of connections and coincidences related to a tragic kidnapping case.
Faithful to Christie’s tale, the convoluted plot will keep you engaged right to the end. As will the antics of the other passengers, especially husband hunter Caroline Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer) and exiled Russian Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench).
Designer Alexandra Byrne captures the period beautifully with the lavish costumes, and cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos treats us to spectacular vistas of Jerusalem, Istanbul, and snow-covered mountain ranges…definitely Oscar-worthy achievements.
A stylish and suspenseful movie that will delight mystery lovers!