WEEKEND WEB: Stellar cast but no time for them to shine

Murder on the Orient Express

FILM REVIEW: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (12A)SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOWCAST: KENNETH BRANAGH, JOHNNY DEPP, MICHELLE PFEIFFER, DAISY RIDLEY, WILLEM DAFOE, JUDY DENCH, JOSH GAD, PENELOPE CRUZ, LESLIE ODOM JR, TOM BATEMAN, DEREK JACOBI, MANUEL GARCIA-RULFO, SERGEI POLUNIN, LUCY BOYNTON, MIRANDA RAISON, MARWAN KENZARI & OLIVIA COLMANRUNNING TIME: 1 HR 54 MINSDIRECTOR: KENNETH BRANAGH

Despite a stellar cast this lavish remake of the 1974 original never finds the killer touch.

Kenneth Branagh – who also directs – takes on the mantle of the world’s most famous detective Hercule Poirot in this star-studded blockbuster, but it never really comes together despite nuggets of intrigue and a noteworthy twist ending.

Based on one of Agatha Christie’s most infamous novels, a train ride housing some of society’s high-rollers unfolds into a suspenseful mystery when thirteen stranded strangers all become suspects after a fellow passenger is murdered on the luxury locomotive – leaving fellow traveller Poirot as the man to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.

Branagh himself never really nails the eclectically-moustached Poirot like his predecessor David Suchet did – with his accent sometimes inaudible and the Belgian detective’s subtle humour sometimes failing to hit the mark as intended.

But despite it’s stellar cast, only Michelle Pfeiffer’s (Batman Returns) socialite Caroline Hubbard, Josh Gad’s (The Beauty and the Beast) assistant Hector MacQueen and Daisy Ridley’s (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) governess Mary Debenham, get the spluttering of screen time required to make an impact.

Outside of them and Branagh, the rest of the actors involved battle to make an impactful presence in their minimal allotted time to try and make you actually care for their characters.

Sadly there’s not one in the entire film that you will root for, as this meanders in no more than third gear from one scene to the next.

It’s not completely a damp squib, but you get the impression that Branagh thinks the film (including his iteration of Poirot) is actually cleverer than what it is – and despite a relatively decent pay-off never really comes together into one coherent piece.

Which leaves this disappointingly de-railing from the tracks despite all the talent that should have made this a more memorable ride.

Rating: 2.5/5

Gavin Miller

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