Kenneth Branagh finds interesting ways to grease the wheels of this new take on the oft-filmed novel.
The Hollywood Reporter
Given the confined nature of the material as well as its period-specific aspects, this is a yarn that does not exactly invite radical reinterpretation. As such, its appeal is confined to the traditional niceties of being a clever tale well told, with colorful characters that are fun to watch being made to squirm by the inimitable Belgian detective.
A shade more playfulness would have gone a long way. This Orient Express clatters handsomely along, but I left the cinema wishing it had had the nerve to jump the rails.
An enjoyable journey with a stellar cast, though the baggage we carry as modern viewers sees this ride derailed before its denouement.
Time Out London
If it's all a little too crowded with characters, Branagh’s pacy direction keeps the story zip along to a conclusion that’s tense even if you remember whodunnit.
Ultimately, Murder on the Orient Express isn’t necessarily awful; it’s just inert, a prestige pic that’s too busy looking handsome and respectable to evoke any real intrigue or emotional involvement.
Branagh, in his direction and especially in his performance, can’t help but overdo the cheeky artificiality, which keeps Murder feeling more like a well-designed exercise than a delectable thriller.
Though he succeeds in creating the most memorable incarnation of Poirot ever seen on-screen (upstaging even Johnny Depp’s competing cameo), the movie is a failure overall, juggling too many characters to keep straight, and botching the last act so badly that those who go in blind may well walk out not having understood its infamous twist ending.
A handsomely furnished holiday movie that should have devoted more attention to its many ornaments and less to the tinsel at the top, this Murder on the Orient Express loses steam as soon as it leaves the station.
This film never gets up a head of steam.