Just, for a minute, take a look at that cast list above again. Then consider the cost, the trailers, the egos. There hasn’t, quite frankly, been a more all-star cast than... well, since the last time someone adapted Agatha Christie’s iconic 1934 murder-mystery set aboard the most famous train on Earth, as it chunters through the Alps.
That was Sidney Lumet, back in 1974, who got everyone from Lauren Bacall to Ingrid Bergman and Sean Connery to John Gielgud aboard. Now it’s Kenneth Branagh’s turn. And, being Kenneth Branagh, he’s not doing things by halves, not only directing that huge cast but being a key one of them himself.
“I wanted to play [Hercule] Poirot because, having played Wallander, I wanted to play a detective who was happy,” says Branagh, who in this movie will sport a moustache so massive it would put Tom Selleck’s in the shade. “Poirot can hide behind the moustache. But also, when people mock it or ridicule it or dismiss it, they underestimate him and therefore his job as a detective becomes simpler.”
Branagh is well aware of how dated, how ‘Sunday TV’ the world of Agatha Christie must seem to the younger generation, and he has hardly held back in addressing the issue. He’s helped, of course, by that casting – Pirates of the Carribean’s Jack Sparrow and Star Wars’ Rey (Depp and Ridley respectively), will no doubt draw in the crowds. But when they’re there, Branagh says, what will impress them most isn’t the actors but the scale.
“This is a big movie,” he says. “It just has this massive, murderous scope to it.” Ticket for two, please.
The Bottom Line
Agatha Christie’s whodunnit goes BIG.