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Kenneth Branagh to direct, star in Murder On The Orient Express

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Steadily working his way down some hypothetical nerdy teenager’s bookshelf, from Shakespeare to Thor comics to Agatha Christie novels, director Kenneth Branagh has signed on to star in and direct an adaptation of Murder On The Orient Express. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Branagh will not only helm Fox’s new adaptation of Christie’s classic tale of the power of effective teamwork, but also play her celebrated Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, master of the little grey cells.

Branagh has spent the last several years bouncing from in front of the camera to behind it and back again; his last directorial role was Disney’s dull-but-pretty Cinderella, while he last appeared on non-Wallander screens in 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Given the way his talents have developed over the years, though, Orient Express actually seems like it might be a pretty good fit. It’s one of Christie’s most lavish novels, focused on the trappings of luxury and wealth, while simultaneously offering up some of her most cookie-cutter depictions of snobby British wealth. (There’s no danger, after all, of Branagh stylishly draining depth from characters who never actually had it in the first place.)

And though it’ll hard for Branagh to compare to David Suchet—whose 24-year turn as the fussy little detective on ITV and PBS’s Poirot has come to define the character for many—he has at least showed a certain, let’s say, enthusiasm in the past, which suggests he might be well-suited to sinking his teeth into the character, and/or his beautifully decorated surroundings.

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