Overall, I loved Kenneth Branagh’s new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.

I love the clarity of the story and setting. I love the hammy, arch performances by the game cast (especially Branagh’s own mustachioed performance as Hercule Poirot). Being wholly unfamiliar with the material, I love retroactively clocking the movie Snowpiercer as a warped, dystopian grandchild of this story. And I love the ending, which, as in Agatha Christie’s novel and other adaptations, flips the script on the murder mystery trope of every character being a suspect.

The only criticism I would or could offer is maybe one of sequencing — the movie ends with Poirot declaring that he, for once, cannot judge the crime, which famously turns out to have been an elaborate revenge conspiracy to avenge a murdered child. He essentially lets the guilty parties walk away free, and we are meant to view it as a major turning point for the character of Poirot and his clearly defined sense of right and wrong. It all plays fine and Branagh handles the moment very well, but I can’t help feeling that the moment would have had more punch if it was (as the novel was) one in an sequence stories where Poirot didn’t do that.

It’s sort of like how you can’t expect Superman breaking Zod’s neck to be a big moment if you haven’t established that he doesn’t kill people as a rule. Defintiely not saying that there needs to be a “Poirot Cinematic Universe” that lead up to this or anything, just that I maybe needed to see Poirot run a least a couple of other mysteries totally by the books before I could fully buy the weight of this ending.

Supposedly a sequel is coming in the form of an adaptation of Christie’s novel Death on the Nile, which, on the strength of this film and Branagh’s vision for the character, I am very much on board for.

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