Although I love mysteries, I have never warmed to Agatha Christie’s fictional detective Hercule Poirot. In this year’s remake of Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh actually made Poirot marginally appealing to me. Branagh, who also directed, brings to the role a more explicit OCD diagnosis and a mustache that has its own architecture.
It’s the same plot as in the 1970s version – as the increasingly more improbable coincidences pile up, it becomes clear that they may not be coincidences at all. And this year’s Murder on the Orient Express is also star-studded, with fine performances from Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, Judy Dench, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Derek Jacobi and Johnny Depp, who can pull off a pencil thin mustache better than anyone in the last 60 years.
Murder on the Orient Express begins with a spectacular overhead shot of the Wailing Wall and concludes with an amusing Last Supper tableau (see M*A*S*H*). It’s moderately entertaining, at its best when it acknowledges that it’s just a lark.