DIRECTOR: Kenneth Branagh
Hercule Poirot the detective is a man that loves order amongst chaos. He is meticulous with details and exacting of how his boiled eggs should be presented. The Belgium sleuth is on board “The Orient Express” after just completing a case in Jerusalem and in holiday mode but “The Orient Express” has other plans for this detective.
Kenneth Branagh is at home in this role and his moustache is even more at home on the actor’s face.
I’m gonna call it as it is, Branagh as director assembles a cast of A-list actors in Dame Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Derek Jacobi, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfieiffer and more. Good job, yet they all have to contend with sharing a scene with a moustache. It’s almost as if Branagh’s scared of being upstaged by other actors so he says ” I know what I’ll do, I’ll distract the audience from paying too much attention to them by creating an overgrown moustache to look on me”. Well done Branagh, you have the attention.
Once the moustache is overlooked and we settle into the movie the first forty minutes is given to setting up characters and premise. The script constantly reminds us it’s Hercule Poirot not Hercules Poirot, I wanted story not name correction.
Johnny Depp’s character in Ratchett is a corrupt businessman, shady and knows something is not right and needs safeguarding. His small on screen performance is good to make an impact on the characters surrounding him and to leave an impression on the audience. After character setup the murder happens and Poirot kicks into gear trying to solve the mystery on board the train that is halted during a storm.
Who are the suspects?
Ensemble casts can either fall or rise, it can because of the calibre of the cast or it could be not been given enough story and screen time. In the case of this film, it slightly falls because actors are wanting to make the most out of every second that the camera films them. There’s a sense of over acting and something doesn’t seem right. Some are just delivering lines so they get to the next scene while others want the spotlight that shouldn’t be on them.
The film was visually stunning and made good use of shots and techniques to dramatise what was happening at specific moments but overall the film was like the train itself. An expensive train ride halted on the tracks waiting for somebody to save it.
Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot
Johnny Depp as Ratchett
Dame Judi Dench as Princess Natalia
Michelle Pfieffer as Caroline
Willem Dafoe as Gerhard