An American movie actress, best known for playing dumb blondes, is Scotland Yard's prime suspect when her husband, Lord Edgware, is murdered. The great detective, Hercule Poirot, digs deeper into the case.
Hercule Poirot attends a dinner party in which one of the guests clutches his throat and suddenly dies. The cause seems to be natural until another party with most of the same guests produces another corpse.
Agatha Christie's classic whodunit speeds into the twenty-first century. World-famous sleuth Hercule Poirot has just finished a case in Istanbul and is returning home to London onboard the luxurious Orient Express. But, the train comes to a sudden halt when a rock slide blocks the tracks ahead. And all the thrills of riding the famous train come to a halt when a man discovered dead in his compartment, stabbed nine times. The train is stranded. No one has gotten on or gotten off. That can only mean one thing: the killer is onboard, and it is up to Hercule Poirot to find him. Written by
The 1974 movie of this book was a mixed bag. Obligations to the all-star cast caused most of the problems, as the writers and editors jockeyed to give everyone an equitable amount of screen time, an actorly moment and some close-ups. This prevented it from being a very deep film, and Sidney Lumet is really only a workmanlike filmmaker. But still, despite those limitations, there is much pleasure in the earlier version; the wordless flashback prologue of a kidnapping is beautifully done. Rare for a murder mystery, the unfolding of the solution provides a startling, satisfying emotional payload.
For this retelling, a decision was made to update the material to the contemporary era. The topical references that acknowledge the world has changed since the thirties really achieve naught, except perhaps alleviating some writers fear that the material is passé... There's too many of these self-conscious references (to air travel, the internet, VCRs, taking the Express out of mothballs, Ross Perot) and they become annoying. Other changes are there simply because filmmakers thought it would make it more conventional (Hercule Poirot has a ridiculous romantic interest, "Vera"). The biggest bummer is the substitution of a utilitarian diesel engine for the original stylish steam locomotive. Thud.
Ultimately these revisions add nothing to the movie and seem to have taken the focus off producing a tight, compelling, methodical script.
The highlight of the previous movie was the cross-cutting between the temporal time-frame and the crime. This movie lifts that technique, but doesn't really come up with any contribution of it's own. The color palette, the research and the envisioning of the crime were all more vivid in the earlier version.
Alfred Molina is pretty bad in this. It just isn't interesting.
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