After successfully solving a case in Jerusalem, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is forced to cancel his vacation. A case was waiting for him in London. On his way to London, he even had to face a murder case on the train he was riding. The puzzle of the murder is complicated because from the testimonies of all the passengers in the carriage, all of them have the possibility of being a suspect. Can Hercule Poirot solve the riddle?
The novel Murder on the Orient Express (1934) is one of Agatha Christie’s works which is often made into a film. The previous version was made by Sidney Lumet in 1974. At that time the film starred famous stars such as Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery and others. The line-up of the latest version is no less flashy, Kenneth Branagh as the director and the main character collaborates with big names such as Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
To be honest, at first I was interested in watching this film because of the line up of the cast in this film. Plus there’s Johnny Depp in it. So far, I have never been disappointed by the films played by Johnny Depp, even though some of his films were not very good, but at least I was entertained. But in the end I had to be a little disappointed because the portion of the role played by Johnny Depp was not as big as the picture on the poster.
There are no striking differences when compared to the previous version. Only the impression of the 2017 version of Hercule Poirot feels more classy and masterful when compared to 1974’s Hercule Poirot, played by Albert Finney. In addition, his mustache feels more part here.
Hercule Poirot has just solved a theft case involving three religious leaders in Jerusalem. As a recognized detective in the world, wherever he goes, he is always being chased by clients who ask him to solve cases. This time a case in London made him have to cancel his vacation and rush there. Luckily in Istanbul he got a place on the Orient Express, then headed to France.
The journey to France was not a pleasant thing for Hercule Poirot. In the middle of the journey the train had to stop because the road was blocked by an avalanche. Not only that, one of the train passengers was found dead in his sleep. As a detective, Poirot is asked to solve the mystery and find out who the murderer is.
Throughout the story, the spotlight is constantly on the figure of Hercule Poirot. Perhaps Kenneth Branagh aims to make Hercule Poirot’s character more iconic and more marketable, such as Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. or his Benedict Cumberbatch. If that’s the goal, I think it’s quite a success.
Hercule Poirot is described as obsessed with balance. He took issue when the two eggs for breakfast were not the same size. He also took issue with his feet stepping on dirt on the street, he chose to step on the dirt one more time with the other foot so that everything returned to balance. The triviality of the story about Hercule Poirot, which was previously not well explained in the previous 43 years, makes this film taste delicious.
I don’t know how Agatha Christie will write this case in a novel, for sure the Murder on the Orient Express story becomes a challenging thing when made into a film. There’s something missing from the way Kenneth Branagh adapted this story. The weakness lies in the explanation of what previously happened to the characters in this film, what their backgrounds are, how they came to be in that situation. Information about this is deliberately presented minimally to maximize the impression of mystery and puzzles in the film. Kenneth Branagh seems to force the audience to sit still and tell the audience to just wait until Hercule Poirot solves the riddle. In the 1974 version, Sidney Lumet also seems to have tried, but the results are still not optimal.
Murder on The Orient Express (2017) just feels like an updated version of the previous version in 1974. There are no noticeable changes in it except for Hercule Poirot’s wider mustache. At least Kenneth Branagh has tried to make it fresher even though it still tastes like food stuffed in the fridge.