Murder on the Orient Express is a movie that thinks it is better than it is. It thinks it is stylish and sophisticated, but in reality it is just a pretty façade with not a lot going on behind the scenes. That is not to say the 2017 remake of the classic film based on the classic book is bad, it just doesn’t do anything interesting or new to justify its existence. It just tells the story again in a very straightforward manner.
What is that story? Well I am glad you asked, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is on the titular Orient Express when a man is murdered under strange circumstances. Everyone has a motive, so everyone is a suspect. It is a good thing that Poirot is the world’s greatest
There is not a lot else I can say without spoiling the movie, but that is one of the main problems: Besides the book there has been a movie, two TV specials, an anime and even a manga that have told the story of a Murder on the Orient Express. We all know the story, and if you don’t, you are not the target market for this film. This new one doesn’t change up the story at all. It is simple retelling. A very good looking retelling. Sure they keep remaking Robin Hood and The Three Musketeers over and over again, but action and heroism are universal, and you can show them in new ways. A who-done-it that is faithful to the book stops being captivating because we know who-did-it, and how Poirot solves it.
Luckily the cast saves this film from being unwatchable. They are all great. Even Johnny Depp tones down his weirdo of the week impulses, and any time you can add Michelle Pfeiffer to your cast you should. Though I am not entirely sure that Kenneth Branagh pulls off his French accent. It sounds okay most of the time, but it can get a little iffy. I am sure there are four Frenchmen that saw this film that are supper offended.
If you somehow have never seen or read Murder on the Orient Express, this is not a bad version, but if you have, there is no real good reason to. The best one I can think of is to support Michelle Pfeiffer, and even then I am guessing they credit all the eyes this movie gets to Sir Kenneth Branagh. The other reason is that it is full of beautiful people in great clothes in front of some okay green screens. Which is a 100% valid. I am just not sure that is enough for most people.