Based on the book by Agatha Christie.
Version: 2017; starring Kenneth Branaugh; Johnny Depp; Derek Jacobi; Michelle Pfeiffer; Judi Dench
Genre: classic; suspense; costume drama; mystery
Plot Summary: [from imdB.com:] “When a murder occurs on the train he’s travelling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case.”
My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not by comparing it to that novel. Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.
When I first saw the promo trailer for this, my first instinct was: “No. That’s not Poirot, and nobody can tell me it is.” How can anybody possibly play that character better than David Suchet? But there have been so many times when I have tried something (usually movies) that I thought I would hate, and it turned out I liked it much, much better than I thought I would, or benefited by it in some way. So I did break down and give this a try.
Did it surpass the previous Orient Express I love starring Suchet, Barbara Hershey, and Toby Jones? No. Did Branaugh embody Chritie’s Poirot? No. Was it a terribly rotten movie? Surprisingly, no. Here’s why.
Try to get it out of your head that this is a remake. Try to get it out of your head that this was a book first with a detective that appeared in a whole series of books previously. Forget what Poirot looks like, and that Suchet perfectly imitated his mincing steps and egg shaped head. Now, sit down and take this film as it is. Take Branaugh’s Poirot completely as Branaugh presents him. And you get a good, suspense-filled movie with a “closed room mystery” and a cast full of colorful characters that make you think about life and justice, while giving you chills in the middle of an avalanche and a cold blooded murder scene. This is what …Orient Express actually is. And the film does an excellent job of that.
I still like BBC’s Agatha Christie’s Poirot version, for all of the above reasons, and because it feels more realistic. It has it’s own sense of atmosphere and it doesn’t come off feeling so exaggerated. But. Branaugh’s film is to be recognized as being a good drama, too. It really does not fail. In fact, I was better able to follow the plot in this one, the motives behind the murder, and the big reveal at the end was far more dramatic than a huddled group in a narrow dining car. The newer version works to create different change of scenes on a limited stage. Overall, it took on an artistic, creative flair that was very interesting.
I’ll warn you: if there’s going to be a murder, you might as well expect blood, and there is lots of it. So, cover your eyes Sally and Johnny and Grandma, too. In fact, this may not be for you. In a nutshell: if you crave realism and darkness, choose BBC’s Murder… If you wish something with a bit more flair and composition, go for Branaugh’s. Both are recommended.