Kenneth Branagh has little to add to Agatha Christie’s classic story.

Agatha Christie’s 1934 mystery novel Murder on the Orient Express has been adapted for the screen many times, most notably by Sidney Lumet in 1974. In the iconic tale, Christie’s long-running character Hercule Poirot, the genius Belgian detective, finds himself trying to take a bit of a vacation while traveling on a packed luxury train that’s making a three-day journey from Istanbul to England. But he’s interrupted by a murder.

Lumet’s adaptation was popular and well-reviewed, netting six Oscar nominations (and a win for star Ingrid Bergman). And now, 43 years later, Kenneth Branagh has decided to take a crack at the story, both directing the film and playing a mustachioed Poirot.

As it happens, I haven’t seen Lumet’s version. When I found out about Branagh’s upcoming adaptation, I decided to abstain, knowing that the fun of a mystery comes from watching the solution unfold.

Alas: I did not enjoy my travels with this latest iteration of Murder on the Orient Express. It is a plodding and at times inexplicably fake-looking film that sells itself entirely on whatever interest it can borrow from its stars and its famous source material. But it doesn’t have anything particularly compelling to offer — whether you’re already familiar with the story or experiencing it for the first time.

Murder on the Orient Express is a whodunnit on a train

The movie’s main selling point is its cast, a veritable constellation of talent that includes Branagh, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Olivia Colman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, and Leslie Odom Jr., all stuffed onto a train together and stranded for several days on a Read More Here