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Murder on the Orient Express

Cover Media logo Cover Media 09/11/2017 covermg.com

Agatha Christie's classic tale Murder on the Orient Express is loved by audiences around the world and it has been referenced in all sorts of popular culture, from comedy Hot Fuzz to being channelled through an episode of cartoon TV series Murder on the Planet Express.

So, when it was revealed that Kenneth Branagh was bringing his own version of the tale to life, with an all-star cast including Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, and Penelope Cruz, fans were in a frenzy with excitement. After all, the 1974 version helmed by Sidney Lumet proved to be a huge success, receiving six nominations at the 47th Academy Awards.

While there's no doubting the immense talent on screen, this big screen adaptation sadly lacks the thrill which people felt from reading the book.

Branagh himself stars in the film as the famous fictional detective Hercule Poirot, who first impresses the audience by revealing a local policeman as a thief while in Jerusalem.

But it's tough going solving crimes all the time, so Poirot decides it's time to take a break and as he sails to Istanbul in the company of a governess, Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley) and Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jr.), who appear to have a secret between them as they board the small boat.

As they touch down in the Turkish capital, Poirot's friend Bouc (Tom Bateman) invites him to board the Orient Express, where he bumps into Mary and the doctor once again as well as self-confessed man-eater Mrs. Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer), who jokes she's been husband hunting during her time in Istanbul.

Also on board is a princess, played perfectly by Dench, her maid Hildegarde Schmidt (Olivia Coleman), a professor (Willem Dafoe), a count and his wife (Sergei Polunin and Lucy Boynton) a missionary (Cruz) and a gangster known as Samuel Ratchett, with Depp sending shivers down viewers' spines with his creepy performance. He has his assistant Hector (Josh Gad) and butler Edward (Derek Jacobi) on board, but that doesn't stop him from being mysteriously murdered in the night when the train comes to a halt after a dramatic avalanche derails it.

a man standing in front of a window © Provided by Cover Media

It may be his vacation time, but Poirot leaps into action to solve the case, quizzing each suspect one on one and eventually discovering the true identity of the late Ratchett, who had approached the detective to keep an eye out for him during the train journey as he didn't feel safe.

No one on board seems like a killer, though someone committed the crime - but who?

Just watching all the stars mingle in a single train carriage is enough to give viewers goosebumps as it seems like a cast too good to be true, but disappointingly no tension stems from the murder mystery itself.

Each character is given so little time by themselves that it's hard to develop any bond with them, especially Depp, who is killed early on before audiences can know how dodgy he was.

The setting of the snowy mountains really adds to the atmosphere, even if it is CGI'd, and Branagh's portrayal of Poirot is arguably the strongest in the film. His accent alone is extremely entertaining and he really propels the story when other aspects fail to, and the so-called 'climax' of the movie is only made enjoyable thanks to him.

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