Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is more than your typical remake; it’s an elegant vision of her classic story about murder rooted in the death of a child.
More often than not, remakes fail to live up to other predecessors, in this case most notably the 1974 Sidney Lumet version of this 1934 murder mystery. Totally enamored of that film, I found myself eagerly awaiting this edition with much hope and the lure of a fabulous steam engine train cruising up a mountain pass only to be sidelined by an avalanche. And a murder.
Director Kenneth Branagh pulled together a cast of luminaries, including Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, and Branagh himself in the role of legendary detective Hercule Poirot. We meet these characters in a leisurely form, and amid the charm and elegance that was the Orient express in the heyday of train travel. The films has none of the flash bang noise and aggressive music of too many modern films; instead it begins at a leisurely pace that allows us glimpses into the detail-oriented personality of the Belgian detective Poirot and allows us to vicariously sample the leisurely pace of travel at its best.
As we meet the characters one by one, they seem unlikely suspects for a brutal murder. Slowly, the victim is revealed as the murderer of a small child years before. The travelers slowly reveal their own ties to that tragic event. Even as a rescue crew is digging out the train and setting it right, Poirot himself must face his own moment of truth with justice and mercy.
Murder on the Orient Express is visually stunning, and delivers on slowly escalating drama. Its appeal is also rooted in the fact that millions have read the classic Poirot tales spun by author Agatha Christie. It’s one of the best films of the year.
— Christine Anne Piesyk