For those who are unaware, this film is a remake of an old film, Murder On The Orient Express which was in cinemas in 1974. This film is also based on the best selling novel written by the well-known author “Agatha Christie”.
Respectably known as the world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) takes a long-awaited holiday after solving a recent case. He boards a train known as the “Orient Express”. The train is also loaded with passengers. Shortly, our detective discovers a murder has taken place. To make matters worse, the train accidentally gets stuck due to an avalanche. The clock is now ticking as Hercule Poirot takes on the case, becoming curious and loving the challenge. Who committed the murder? And why? Will our skilled detective be able to solve this murder before the train reaches its destination?
Before I continue further, I will proudly mention that I have watched the original film prior to seeing this remake and the modern version. I have ignored my personal thoughts and the original film in his review. While the film genre is a classic, good Murder mysteries have been lacking from our cinema screens in quite some time. In fact, before this remake, I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a “who done it” feature film.
The film looks and sounds amazing, in particular when Poirot speaks his mind out loud with close up shots. As characters walk around the train there also many shots from different angles and objects including shots through windows/mirrors or even filming from above to help see the entire room. The atmosphere of snow and mountains are also pleasing to the film’s style and respects the year the film is set in. I enjoyed the setup and introduction of our characters (because there are so many of them) and the discovery of the foul murder on the train. Once the investigation begins though, the film slides downhill.
The investigation process feels rushed and misses many elements in regards to storytelling. Even being aware of the film’s storyline in advance, the way this film tells its tale is poorly done and told in a confusing manner. Many moments where clues were revealed felt like Poirot did it on his own and the audience members were not part of the journey, instead of watching on the sidelines and observing from afar. When a film follows someone as wise and witty as Poirot, it really saddens me to not feel part of his journey and not fully understanding his mind. This also happens with parts of the film’s back story too.
Many elements and clues appear impossible to discover and understand, and due to the pacing and scenes, it feels as though these were simply skipped over for the sake of the film’s duration. This also includes the film’s final act and reveal. With many actors involved (Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Glad a few to name), all have rather small amounts of time on screen. Some of our big names actors have a total screen time of less than 5mins, so some viewers could also be disappointed here.
Overall, we have a remake which tries to deliver magic once again as we saw it in 1974. While the filming aspects are glamorous on the big screen, the film’s way of telling this murder mystery is a letdown. With a story that is rushed and misses key elements to better understand the story, it is sad to say that for a remake there isn’t much new to show or offer on-screen. Newcomers being introduced to “Hercule Poirot” may enjoy, but I feel will still be confused by its story.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden