Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Willem Defoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Sergei Polunin, Tom Bateman, Miranda Raison, Paapa Essiedu, Michael Rouse, Joseph Long, Elliot Levey, David Annen, Kathryn Wilder, Phil Dunster.
It is a story that evokes images that many of us will never see, never experience and one that captures the raw cold hate of many emotions, as well as the beauty of the scenery that is on offer as one of the most famous pieces of engineering takes its passengers through Europe.
Another decade, another version of Murder on the Orient Express, yet somehow Kenneth Branagh has managed to weave together a piece of cinema that sits well in the pantheon of films adapted from the Queen of Crime’s long list of novels.
Ultimately Murder on the Orient Express isn’t about the destruction of the act itself but that of sacrifice and connection. The sacrifice is always there to appease the Gods, to hopefully bring forth peace to a fractured land, in the act of revenge it is a tragedy, you don’t truly heal your soul, you only make it heavier, you make it more susceptible to regret and as Kenneth Branagh looked upon the crowd of suspects and delivered his Poirot sermon, that sense of revenge appeased had already begun to prepare their souls for the torment ahead.
The connection that the 2017 adaption of Ms. Christie’s work makes much more clear than the previous versions of the book to make it to screen is to applauded, a timely reminder that events in a person’s life don’t always effect that one soul, that troubled mind; like ripples on the water’s skin, they radiate outwards, grief and anger make a mighty pebble, they provoke emotions that are heightened when confronted by the group dynamic. It is a truth that makes arguably Murder on the Orient Express and Then There Were None two of the most famous and enjoyable detective novels of the 20th Century.
The only downfall for the film will perhaps be in the form of film goer apathy, the fact that there is an abundance of versions that have been filmed and that are regularly seen on television; overkill maybe, is the collapse of many a great venture. However the film is as close to luxury as can get, a reminder of another time that is always fondly remembered; not the period perhaps but the travel and the adventure that was possible.
A very good version of Agatha Christie’s celebrated story, Murder on the Orient Express still captivates and enthrals, it is a story that deals with one of the fundamental complex frailties of humanity, just how far do you go to get revenge and does it make you feel any better for having done so!
Ian D. Hall