Rated PG-13. Running time:1 hour 54 min.
Our contents rating:Violence 4; Language 1; Sex/Nudity 1.
Our star rating (1-5): 4
Thou shalt not kill.
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
“My name is Hercule Poirot, and I am probably the greatest detective in the world,” Thus Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) introduces himself to a train-car full of passengers on the legendary Orient Express in this remake of Agathe Christie’s much filmed 1934 story. I have never read one of her 30 or so books featuring the detective, but from his many successes, I would surmise that he is correct, if not humble.
What probably will set director Kenneth Branagh’s version of the novel apart from the others is the size of his famous mustache, so hugely dominating his face, it could be said that he follows it, rather than just wears it.
After cleverly solving a theft in Istanbul, the detective is aboard the luxurious train when it is stopped in its track by a small snow avalanche. The body of a murderous criminal is found, slashed a dozen times by a knife. Poirot tells the assembled passengers that they are all suspects. They include Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench); the murdered man’s assistant Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad); the sultry widow Mrs. Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer); Professor Gerhard Hardman (Willem Dafoe); missionary Pilar Estravados (Penélope Cruz); Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Jr.); butler Edward Masterman (Derek Jacobi); maid Hildegarde Schmidt (Olivia Colman); car salesman Marquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo); Count and Countess Andrenyi (Sergei Polunin, Lucy Boynton); and governess Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley). Perhaps you can see one problem right away—too many characters for the viewer (at least this one) to keep track of. Or, not enough screen time to establish their personalities—I especially felt this away about Judi Dench’s character.
Anyway, not having seen any of the previous versions of the film, I was surprised by the revelation of “who dunnit,” and felt that Poirot’s explanation was far too brief for my confused mind to grasp. However, I was intrigued by what he decided to do about the crime, especially in the light of his earlier statement of his philosophy, “There is right, there is wrong, and nothing in between.” In his decision as to what should be done to the killer(s), he admits to an ambiguity that he had denied. This is like Inspector Javert had reached out, shaken the hand of Jean Valjean, and gone off to share a bottle of wine with his
No time to write questions because the Jan. VP must be finished & sent off in an hour. Leaders can explore with group the detective’s unusual decision. Is it right or wrong, or has he discovered motives, justice, and life are all more ambiguous than his previous view of right and wrong had allowed?