Picks and Pans Review: Murder on the Orient Express
The 1974 film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express—set in the '30s—boasted a starry cast of suspects that included Sean Connery, Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud and Ingrid Bergman. How does this updated version compare? Lauren Bacalls compartment on the luxury train is now occupied by Meredith Baxter.
All right, that's unfair. The character in question has been turned into an erstwhile sitcom actress with celebrity pretensions, and Baxter plays her well. More importantly, Alfred Molina makes Hercule Poirot a suave sleuth with sex appeal, as opposed to the fussy eccentric portrayed by Albert Finney in '74. Some will find Molina's modern approach refreshing. But to sustain interest in the creaky plot, this mystery needs colorful supporting performances—and it hasn't nearly enough of them. Peter Strauss is adequately thuggish as the murder victim, Leslie Caron brings her customary elegance to the role of a despot's widow, and David Hunt briefly attracts notice as a passenger who loudly resents the master detective's questioning. Alas, no one else on board the Orient Express will cause you to care a whit who done it.
Bottom Line: Fresh Poirot, stale case
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