Murder on the Orient Express, the Remake directed by Kenneth Branagh is delightful and entertaining, but sadly it’s not better than the original. I wish that I could say that the remake was better, but it usually never is. However, it doesn’t mean that this film isn’t worth seeing because, like a lot of movies that I see… I wasn’t bored and it’s not a forgetful movie at all.
What makes this movie good are the performances of a star-studded cast. That alone makes this worth seeing in the theater. And we’ll start with Kenneth Brannagh’s performance as Hercule Poirot. We’ve had many actors portraying him in film and TV, and each one has their own distinctive interpretation. I think we can all agree that Kenneth Branagh is a brilliant actor and he definitely brings that Shakespearean quality to his performance. My first thought is that I see a lot of his performance from Much Ado About Nothing but with a thick Belgian accent. This is not a complaint because he is adorable and funny while truly being heartfelt in his pursuit of the truth and having to live with the truth. He probably gives the best performance in the movie and rightfully so because his performance is the glue that holds the story together. My only really big complaint is his take on the mustache because it looks a little too CGI and clean, but there are some great comical moments like when he is sleeping and he has a mustache mask to help keep it clean. It was like something out of Charlie Chaplin’s Playbook.
Johnny Depp did a great job as usual portraying the villain and making him almost a likeable character that you would feel sympathetic for. Daisy Ridley and Josh Gad both bring a lot of heart to their performances. I think for Daisy Ridley, her performance in this movie truly shows how gifted she is as an actress. But the best performance outside of Kenneth Brannagh has to go to Michelle Pfeiffer. She brought a lot of Grace and Humanity to her performance even while she’s being diabolical. You love to hate her, but also feel a lot of sympathy for her character and that can only be brought out by a good performance.
The movie sticks very close to the original source material except a couple of things. One of them is kind of major and very unnecessary, which makes this a less-than-perfect movie. There is absolutely no reason for Penelope Cruz being in this movie and to portray a character that was made up and not in the boom or the original film. I can’t help but Wonder if the whole point of her being in this movie was just to have another pretty face. The other issue is getting completely rid of the character Dr. Constantine and combining his role with Dr. Arbuthnot, who should really be Colonel Arbuthnot. This one is not as annoying as having the made-up character for Penelope Cruz, but it does change the story a little bit, especially with the misdirection a story tries to give, but it certainly doesn’t take away from Leslie Odom Jr’s performance as Dr. Arbuthnot.
Overall, this is a good film and I would certainly recommend seeing it in the theater. The performances are fantastic and even if you might know how it ends you can’t escape the feeling of suspense all the way through the film. And Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of Hercule Poirot is one of the best that we’ve seen. He’s funny and delightful. The complaints I do have is the movie while stunning in certain aspects also looks a little too CGI. It feels too clean and although that may seem like a minor complaint, I feel like any kind of period piece should feel a little gritty and dirty because it’s old. I still think the original 1974 murder on the Orient Express is a better movie because of all the great English actors that are in it, but I would definitely watch this version again and even pay money to see it. If you’re a fan of the Agatha Christie story and want to see a film with great performances, then definitely check out this version of Murder on the Orient Express, it will not disappoint.