'Murder on the Orient Express' Won't Stay Dead
Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) speculates that he's the world's greatest detective, and it's not an idle boast. His attention to detail is so acute that solving a mystery is about as difficult for him as boiling an egg. And he's very particular about his eggs.
So when a murder occurs on a train and Poirot is on board, the question is not whether he'll identify the killer but how quickly. It's unlikely that anyone will mourn the victim, a particularly nasty individual whom any number of passengers would have had reason to eliminate. But it must be said that stabbing him multiple times seems to be a bit excessive.
Among the 12 suspects are brash, husband-hunting widow Caroline Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer, excellent), beguiling governess Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley of the "Star Wars" franchise), unassuming missionary Pilar Estravados (Penélope Cruz), droll Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jr.), unsmiling Nazi sympathizer Gerhard Hardman (Willem Dafoe) and disgruntled personal assistant Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad).
Poirot, who could never be accused of lacking in confidence, finds his detective skills put to the test.
"Murder on the Orient Express," the latest screen adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, clearly aspires to be a classy multiplex option. But in attempting to hew to the values of old-school Hollywood, Branagh -- who also directed -- errs on the side of ennui. And his cast of established and up-and-coming stars makes far less of an impression than Poirot's eccentric mustache.
Working from a screenplay by Michael Green ("Blade Runner 2049"), Branagh's challenge was to freshen up a mystery whose solution is hardly a secret -- even if you've never read the book or seen the 1974 film that starred Albert Finney as Poirot and was directed by Sidney Lumet ("Before the Devil Knows You're Dead").
Although Branagh delivers a film that's reasonably watchable, the not-so-mysterious truth is that "Murder on the Orient Express" didn't need to be remade.
What "Murder on the Orient Express" --Three stars out of four --Run time 1:54 --Rating PG-13 --Content Violence and thematic elements ___
This article is written by Calvin Wilson from St. Louis Post-Dispatch and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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