By Travis J. Klemann
A Train Mystery Remake Which Slightly Derails.
A world-renowned detective boards the famous trans-European train headed towards a case in London. His services are shortly required as a murder mystery involving a shady businessman and the diverse collective of passengers/potential suspects unfolds during this cinematic trip which lasts exactly 114 minutes. All aboard!
Kenneth Branagh provides dual roles as both director and star of this mystery drama based on the Agatha Christie novel. The 2017 version is the fourth adaptation of this suspenseful sleuth story, preceding the versions released in 1974 (theatrical film), 2001 (televised film) and the 2010 episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot.
The year: 1934.
The place: Jerusalem.
The case: theft at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Belgian Hercule Poirot solves another mystery in interesting fashion, then plans to travel to Istanbul for holiday but must first return to London for one more case as is the life of the "World's Greatest Detective."
Poirot's friend, Bouc, director of the Orient Express, provides him with a room aboard the steam-powered locomotive. During its journey to London, an avalanche causes the train to derail, leaving the passengers stranded. Coincidentally, a passenger is murdered in his quarters, prompting Bouc to request Poirot's skills to find the killer.
The ensemble cast of supporting characters is comprised of Daisy Ridley, Derek Jacobi, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Judi Dench, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz and Willem Dafoe.
Additionally, Poirot is haunted by a case in which the perpetrator evaded justice. The particular case involved the kidnapping and eventual murder of a young child for ransom. The victim's father committed suicide after losing both his wife and daughter. Poirot never caught the man responsible for the tragedy that befell the Armstrong family.
Combine these unique characters with two separate cases that have more connections than one can conceive and you have an entertaining whodunit thriller that keeps you guessing til the very end.
If you enjoy murder mystery movies that contain two cases tied together, then I suggest you rent or buy this one as soon as you can.
And perhaps check out the original 1974 version as well.
3/5 Stars - Recommended
PS: My only issues with the film are the lack of character development and the plot. The detective is the center of the film while the rest of the talented cast are somewhat an afterthought. Also, the plot is complex yet uses the "it's a small world" cliche. Good but not great storytelling, in summary.