Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Murder on the Orient Express</strong> (2017)

(On Cable TV, August 2018) I know it’s de rigueur to dismiss remakes as being inferior to their original, but I had a great time watching this new version of Murder on the Orient Express, even as it indulges in contemporary tropes that, I suspect, may not be as much fun in a few more years. Director/star Kenneth Branagh seems to have fun repurposing the legendary Hercules Poirot as a modern Cumberbachian-Sherlockian Super-sleuth, with an action prologue clearly identifying his deduction and anticipatory skills. Once aboard the Orient Express, it’s an ensemble cast of great performances that awaits viewers, as we go through the familiar setup but with a great amount of style. Whether you’re familiar or not with the premise, Murder on the Orient Express is about interrogations in a confined location, each person interviewed in their own way with a multiplicity of motivations. Poirot is here played without the slightly ridiculous aspect of his 1973 adaptation, tough and keen to a more believable degree (although the moustache sleeping device does get a big laugh). Visually, the film is very strong—adept cinematography reinforces the icy confines of much of the story, while taking advantage of is fantastic cast. The last-supper climax shot is particularly striking, with Branagh in fine form as he tears through the summation of his investigation. Murder on the Orient Express is a joy to look at, and great good fun to watch—I couldn’t have wished for a more comfortable movie experience. There’s a bit of plot weirdness and thin characterization due to stuffing a large ensemble cast in the confines of a two-hour movie, but it’s not quite enough to overpower the lush period atmosphere or performances. [March 2019: … and after watching the 1973 film, I’m sticking to my heretical thesis: this is a remake that’s better than the original.]

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