Murder on the Orient
by Tony Medley
Runtime 114 minutes
I was looking forward
to this film, and that can often be the kiss of death. There are many
films that I can see over and over and over again, and enjoy just as
much, if not more, than the first time I saw it or them. Examples are
Casablanca (1942), A Few Good Men (1992), and The Caine
Mutiny (1954). There are many more, but the point is that the movies
are so good that the fact that I know the stories backward and forward
does not diminish my pleasure of watching them.
conclusively that author Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient
Express is not one of them, even though it is a remake. I have not
only seen the others, but I read the book many, many years ago. Frankly,
I don’t know why they keep remaking it.
While the production
values are very good, and while it has a cast of A-listers like Judi
Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Penélope Cruz, I found it
excruciating to sit through. For one thing, the exceptional cast
performs mostly little more than cameos because it is a star turn for
director Kenneth Branagh (script by Michael Green) who plays Agatha
Christie’s famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.
Branagh suffers the same fate as those actors who have taken on the role
of James Bond, who forever are compared unfavorably with Sean Connery.
Poirot’s role was so expertly played in the past by Peter Ustinov and
David Suchet that Branagh’s interpretation falls flat. Since he is in
almost every scene it made the movie even less enjoyable for me than it
could have been if I had seen someone give a smashing performance.
I suppose that
somewhere in this favored land where the sun is shining bright, where
the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere children laugh there is
someone who does not know the story of “Murder on the Orient Express.”
For them, this movie could possibly be rated as high as 8/10. But if you
know the story and you have seen Ustinov or Suchet play the role of
Christie’s detective with the little gray cells, this movie could be as
tedious for you as it was for me.