We actually know what Agatha Christie would have thought of Kenneth Branaugh's bastardization of "Murder on the Orient Express." She predicted, in "Mrs. McGinty's Dead," that some idiot would dramatize her books by adding sex and violence that was not in her original work and hypermasculinizing Poirot, while dumbing down her expert character development in a way that insults the audience's intelligence. She knew it had to happen. And it has.
So much about this movie was so bad, it was laughable. Branaugh's heavy handed direction--"Look at me everybody! I'm so clever! I'm going to put Poirot on top of the train! underneath the train! on the side of the train! And film the train from every possible angle like a fight scene from the Batman TV series!" was the worst kind of in your face grandstanding directing. The shots from above--and I mean directly ABOVE--the action were simply ridiculous.
Branaugh even MADE SURE we ALL KNEW his Poirot was HETEROSEXUAL by repeated non sequitur contrived references to a young, thin, pretty, white female love interest in a photo who had about as many lines (none) as the "prostitute" added to a scene with the creeped up Monsieur Bouc character, whose only line was to gush over meeting Poirot, when she wasn't simpering like a child. I honestly have never been so repulsed by a handsome male character in my life as Bouc's predatory lecher.
What the heck was Branaugh thinking? The only thing worse than dumbing down and sexing up the story with psychopathic violence and creepy lechers was the hitting- you-over-the-head-with-oh-so-unsubtle white savior references to the terrible evils of RACISM!!! Please, someone save us from Hollywood white male liberals bending over backwards to be politically correct about race and thinking they are sooooo progressive while maintaining the worst female madonna/whore lampshade character tropes and adding stabbings, guns, fist fights and shootings not in the original story.
"Yes, I took a masterpiece and made it into a self serving piece of crap--but that's OK, because there's a black doctor who gets to make some great speeches about how his white male friend helped him get into med school."
So...let's review. Branaugh ADDED to Christie's original story 1) Poirot's righteous finger pointing at the horrors of racism (adding an empowered black MALE character) and 2) Poirot chuckling with his buddy (wink wink) about buying and selling women for sex. In 1934. In Istanbul. Creating a disempowered female character known as "the prostitute" who does not even get a name and whose entire narrative purpose is to stroke Branaugh/Poirot's ego and 3) adding a female love interest whose only narrative purpose is to proof Branaugh/Poirot's "manhood" who is literally an inanimate photograph and 4) male characters punching walls, fist fighting, stabbing and shooting people and 5) giving Poirot himself characteristics completely antithetical to Christie's beloved detective. As if we needed any more proof of Hollywood's hypocrisy in the treatment of women and sex in our films and normalizing toxic gender stereotypes in both male and female characters.
And the script! It read like some high school freshman TRYING to sound erudite. "Overt overture?" Uh...I was waiting for them to serve a "cheesy cheeseburger" in the dining car. Many of the lines would have been more appropriate in a Steven Seagal movie--"Why won't you DIE!" What!??!?!
Only a fool would take one of the masterpieces of British literature by the great Agatha Christie and make it into a pandering show of ego and arrogance, while insulting the audience's intelligence and perverting Christie's moral dilemma on the definition of justice into a tale of vigilantism and revenge by a bunch of thugs little better than the man they murdered. I am HORRIFIED to think a whole new generation will think THIS detritus has anything to do with Agatha Christie's novel. If I could, I would give this film negative stars.
Do yourself a favor. Watch David Suchet's virtuoso performance in the 2010 Murder on the Orient Express. That production did Christie justice and then some. Or better yet, read the book. Remember reading? Then you'll know that Branaugh should be tarred and feathered for what he did to her epic magnum opus.
No, Ken, you didn't have to mutate Christie's story to pander to today's audiences. She is literally the best selling author of all time. Christie needs no help. She appealed to people's humanity and intelligence, creating one of the most popular characters in the history of literature, not to mention a pantheon of assertive female characters and humane male characters, breaking stereotypes 80 years ago that, unfortunately, still survive today. All you did was play to the lowest common denominator, appealing to our baser instincts while maintaining arguably the most brilliant whodunnit plot of all time. So, new audiences think this "cheesy cheeseburger" is great, not realizing that they could have had filet mignon.
And the tragedy is--she even predicted you would do it. Strip her legacy of it's intelligence and humanity, add male and female stereotypes and neanderthal violence all the while using her brilliant plot to make money.
And you STILL did it.