MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017)

Cert 12A 112mins Stars 3

All aboard for a train full of trouble in this handsomely upholstered retelling of Agatha Christie’s venerable murder mystery.

It’s a grand tour across very familiar terrain populated by a host of famous faces.

Kenneth Branagh supplies a suitably stately air as the Shakespearean super-thesp steps into the well heeled shoes of Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot.

As the luxurious locomotive The Orient Express thunders from Istanbul to Calais, it’s derailed by an avalanche high up in the Alps.

Johnny Depp’s gangster is murdered and Poirot has to deduce which of the passengers committed the foul deed.

Branagh also directs and does with practised authority. He drives Poirot on a personal journey, where the detective’s immovable adherence to the truth collides with his irresistible sense of justice.

Plus Branagh enjoys mischievously mixing some minor heroics with Poirot’s eccentricity and vanity.

Considerable pride is taken in presenting an old fashioned sense of entertainment. Branagh’s careful maintenance of the source material ensures there’s barely a rattle to be heard from the creaking carriage of the plot as the story smoothly pulls into it’s destination.

An epic sweep from Israel to Asia and across Europe is balanced with the claustrophobia of the glamorous interiors.

Although never moving at full tilt the  gains momentum, powered by the anxious energy of many high class show-offs jostling for screen time.

A multi-generational team sees crowd pleasers Daisy Ridley and Olivia Colman rubbing elbows with Hollywood stars such as Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz and Willem Dafoe.

Dressed in richly designed period costumes, they are appropriately photographed on old school film stock not modern digital cameras.

It’s questionable whether this will gain traction with a young audience who expect louder and flashier cinematic fireworks, or with an older audience who have possibly witnessed each of the previous three adaptations.

But there’s no doubt Branagh’s express efficiently delivers.

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