First Hit: I was bored through and through.
I’m not a Kenneth Branagh fan and he doesn’t disappoint here. The whole film from the very beginning was over-done and confusing. The opening sequence is an elongated setup to prove that Hercule Poirot (Branagh) is the very best detective of all time. Solving a crime at the wailing wall where the accused, a priest, a Rabbi, and a Imam are accused of stealing an important object from where an icon stands in a temple. Of course, the world greatest detective pontificates in front of a huge crowd as he explains the story in excruciating detail and finally accuses someone else. The capturing of the real criminal in front of the crowd was too obvious.
His friendship with the director of the Orient Express train from Istanbul to Europe gets him a first-class accommodation on the train. There are numerous characters on the train; Bouc (Tom Batemen), Pilar Estravados (Penelope Cruz), Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench), Samuel Ratchett/John Cassetti (Johnny Depp), Hector McQueen (Josh Gad), Edward Henry Masterman (Derek Jacob), Dr. Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom), Caroline Hubbard/Linda Arden (Michelle Pfeiffer), Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley), Pierre Michel (Marwan Kenzari) and a few others.
The murder of Samuel Rachett/Johnb Cassetti, one night in his cabin, sets Poirot off on finding out who killed him. This is where the film just sinks. It acts as more as a play than a mystery film. The pontificating by Poirot gets old very quick.
The train stopped, because of an avalanche, is supposed to make finding out who the killer is easier. However, everyone has a link to the murder of a young girl many years earlier by Cassetti and therefore everyone is vested in having Ratchett/Cassetti killed.
As Poirot puts the pieces together, the audience has to wait and wade through all the extraneous drama and storytelling.
The showdown scene where he’s going to name the killer Poirot stands in front of a long table with all the others on one side of the table facing him, just like the last supper. Really? This is so over done it becomes tedious just sitting there waiting for the end.
Yes, it is a matter of justice being served correctly and retroactively but the way we get here is a time waster. Branagh comes across as self-important both in the film and of the film. He just can't seem to get out of his own way. His poor direction makes him the standout actor and it’s noticeable. Pfeiffer was probably the best of the lot, as she had a strong role and delivered despite the direction. Depp was mediocre as the villain and he tries to do more with series of looks versus acting. Gad was OK as was the rest of the acting team. Michael Green wrote an Okay script. Given better direction and less Branagh egocentricity of having to be elevated above and separate from the role/film and rest of the cast, it might have been a better or more interesting film.
Overall: This movie was mostly “telling” versus “showing” and because of this, I just had to wait until it was over to leave.