The per­fect crime is pulled off in style

Cynon Valley - - SCREEN SHOTS -

MUR­DER ON THE ORI­ENT EX­PRESS (12A, 114 mins)

THE lit­tle grey cells of mous­ta­chioed sleuth Her­cule Poirot are rig­or­ously tested in Ken­neth Branagh’s hand­some reimag­in­ing of Agatha Christie’s clas­sic snow­bound mur­der mys­tery.

Lov­ingly shot on 65mm cel­lu­loid to cap­ture the splen­dour of the op­u­lent pro­duc­tion de­sign, this beau­ti­fully tai­lored adap­ta­tion wel­comes a first-class pas­sen­ger list of Os­car-win­ners and nom­i­nees from both sides of the At­lantic.

Screen­writer Michael Green cou­ples him­self to Christie’s plot, which is pre­ci­sion-en­gi­neered to achieve a full head of steam be­fore a sat­is­fy­ing fi­nal twist.

A com­pletely new sus­pect is in­tro­duced, along with a char­ac­ter from a dif­fer­ent Christie case, Her­cule Poirot’s Christ­mas, while the snow­drift has been am­pli­fied, cour­tesy of dig­i­tal ef­fects, to an avalanche that strikes the tit­u­lar train.

Poirot (Branagh) is on hol­i­day in Tur­key when he is sum­moned back to Lon­don. Good friend Bouc (Tom Bate­man), di­rec­tor of busi­ness on the Ori­ent Ex­press, se­cures him a cabin next to slip­pery gang­ster Sa­muel Ratch­ett (Johnny Depp), who at­tempts to hire the wily Bel­gian as a body­guard.

Poirot re­jects the of­fer and as the train chugs through the Di­naric Alps, a mur­derer strikes.

Sus­pects in­clude Ratch­ett’s sec­re­tary Hec­tor MacQueen (Josh Gad), gov­erness Mary Deben­ham (Daisy Ri­d­ley), for­mer sol­dier Dr Ar­buth­not (Les­lie Odom Jr), at­ten­tion-fam­ished widow Caro­line Hub­bard (Michelle Pfeif­fer), Princess Na­talia Dragomiroff (Dame Judi Dench) and her maid Hilde­garde Sch­midt (Olivia Col­man), and mis­sion­ary Pi­lar Es­trava­dos (Pene­lope Cruz).

Mur­der On The Ori­ent Ex­press harks back to a by­gone era of lav­ish pe­riod film­mak­ing.

Branagh shoots in­side a mov­able lo­co­mo­tive and four car­riages, built from scratch to al­low his cam­era to glide in seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble di­rec­tions.

The film is el­e­gantly book­marked by a lux­u­ri­ous track­ing shot along the plat­form in Is­tan­bul, which fol­lows the Bel­gian de­tec­tive as he wan­ders through the train, and a five-minute Steadicam shot in­side the car­riages as a morally con­flicted Poirot pre­pares to dis­em­bark.

Branagh sports im­pres­sive fa­cial hair and teases out his pro­tag­o­nist’s in­ner tur­moil, while his co-stars per­fect in­scrutable glares and fur­rowed brows as they pull the wool over our eyes.

Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press boasts an all-star cast

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