TWO STARS Death and mayhem aboard the Orient Express when Hercule Poirot uncovers a murder.
PERIOD THRILLER #ORIENTEXPRESS
Surprisingly, with Kenneth Branagh at the wheel, it’s an odd journey taken by this Orient Express. Hoping to bring Agatha Christie’s beloved moustachioed-detective hero into the realm of block-buster, it’s all fun and games as Hercule Poirot secures a pre-credit win at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall. Seemingly entering Indiana Jones' territory – played for laughs, played for the exotic, played for the adventure – things start well as an all-star cast then climb aboard a train departing Istanbul. Never has a dining car looked so glamorous, or so deadly!
It doesn’t last long as the story soon lurches to a figurative and literal stand-still. The train (potentially on loan from SNOWPIERCER) is derailed by an avalanche at the same time a passenger is stabbed to death - and before you can yell 'Murder!', Poirot is curling his moustache with glee. Was it the gangster’s valet, a ballet dancer, an ageing princess, a missionary, an American hussy, a racist Austrian or Colonel Mustard with a candlestick? I’m not so sure you’ll care.
Frankly, there’s more fun to be had playing Cluedo than watching the next 90 minutes as Poirot interviews suspects one by one, piecing together the truth only to reveal a head-scratching verdict that undoes everything the detective stands for. The joy of Christie’s work is assembling clues to find the fiend before her detective does. The occluded way in which they’re presented here obviates any such possibility, turning the story into a series of inert, ta-da moments that grow increasingly less convincing, and less interesting, with every reveal. It’s something an all-star cast, sumptuous set design and a bucket of moustache wax - try as they might - simply can’t make more exciting.