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Murder on the Orient Express


Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Manuel Garcia Rulfo, Sergei Polunin, Tom Bateman

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Agatha Christie's legendary death train mystery was published in 1934 and first filmed in 1974 with Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot.

So, with the best-selling novel in print for some 83 years, a huge number of potential moviegoers must already know whodunit.

Suspense, then, isn't the prime aspect here. Realising this, while playing fair to Christie's original story, Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green concentrate (as did director Sidney Lumet and screenwriter Paul Dehn in 1974) on ensuring the attention-grabbing casting and performances to match keep you entertained even when you already know how the hunt for truth ends.

Green, too, creates a new opening where Branagh ('My name is Hercule Poirot, and I am probably the greatest detective in the world') smartly solves a case involving an priest, a rabbi and an imam before (with some help from the management) boarding the eponymous train to return to London.

Before long, with the train off the rails and stranded in snowbound mountains, he has to solve the strange case of the seedy gangster passenger who is slain by a slew of stab wounds.

As director, Branagh does the business, telling his story entertainingly, making good use of slick special effects to strand his suspects in the mountain snow, using Haris Zambarloukos' cinematography well and, best of all, ensuring the performances are in tune with his style of storytelling.

Alan Frank

Malta/USA 2017. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 18 Mar 2018

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