“Murder on the Orient Express” is a ride (mostly) worth taking

Trevor Tyle, Staff Reporter

Kenneth Branagh’s new murder mystery “Murder on the Orient Express” may make you think twice about getting on a train.

Following a trend of remakes and sequels in film, “Murder,” originally a 1934 novel by Agatha Christie, was first seen on the big screen back in 1974. While the new version isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking, it does bring the classic story to a younger audience in what is an overall entertaining film.

Branagh both directed and starred in the film, in which he plays Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, considered to be one of the greatest detectives in the world. Though he plans a hiatus for himself, Poirot boards the Orient Express after his assistance is requested in another case.

It is there that he meets the train’s mysterious passengers, who quickly become suspects after one of the strangers is found dead in their room. Having been stranded by an avalanche, the train is stopped while the passengers await a rescue team—and Poirot’s verdict—as he attempts to uncover the identity of the murderer.

Perhaps the best part about “Murder” is its ensemble cast, though the film does a mediocre job familiarizing audiences with many of their characters. Though there are over a dozen passengers on the train, Poirot is still the only one that audiences feel like they know by the time the credits roll. Regardless, the supporting performances—which include the likes of Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr. and Michelle Pfeiffer—are all stunning.

But, Branagh is the real showstopper. At the forefront of “Murder,” both onscreen and behind-the-scenes, Branagh and his perplexingly perfect mustache are what really shine in this film. Both clever and quick-witted, his portrayal of Poirot alone makes the film worth seeing and may warrant the need for a sequel, regardless of whether the film is a box-office success.

As a whole, the film is rather dialogue-heavy with little action to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. It’s like playing Clue, except far more complex and slightly less rewarding at the end. Even the sharpest of viewers will not be able to guess the identity of the murderer, unless they are familiar with previous adaptations of the story. For newcomers to the Orient Express, however, the film has plenty of plot twists to keep them entertained.

It’s also worth noting that the music in “Murder” is simply gorgeous. Even in the dullest of scenes, Patrick Doyle’s enthralling score is captivating, perfectly matching Branagh’s brilliant performance—and thankfully outweighing the occasionally lacking screenplay of Michael Green (“Blade Runner 2049”).

The 2017 adaptation of “Murder on the Orient Express” doesn’t really give those familiar with the original anything fresh or new, but it is a solid introduction of the Agatha Christie classic to millennials. Fronted by an all-star cast with enough twists and turns to keep viewers satisfied, “Murder” is far from a disappointment.

Though it occasionally runs off its tracks, the twists and turns of “Murder on the Orient Express” make for a (mostly) rewarding ride.

Rating: 4/5 stars