First published in 1934, Murder on the Orient Express remains one of the most popular works from the grand Dame of crime fiction, Agatha Christie.

Previously adapted as a 1974 feature by Sidney Lumet, and then a telemovie in 2001, this labyrinthine tale of mystery and murder set aboard the luxury train of the title has now been reimagined for a modern audience.

Christie’s mysteries are a staple of TV but big screen adaptations haven’t been around since the eighties, and Murder on the Orient Express reveals why they’ve been mothballed. Kenneth Branagh’s version might be cinematic, starry and faithful, but it’s also too old fashioned to truly engage a generation who would probably rather be playing Cluedo online. Those who already know whodunit will still be curious to see Branagh’s interpretation, but will find themselves asking ‘why do it?’

Branagh also stars as Christie’s Belgian super sleuth with the oversized moustache, Hercule Poirot – a more subtle portrayal than predecessors Albert Finney and Peter Ustinov. Having demonstrated his amazing powers of deduction at a Jerusalem crime scene (no detail escapes his attention), Poirot boards the mystery train in Istanbul, hoping for three days of rest and reading Dickens.

“Those who already know whodunit will still be curious to see Branagh’s interpretation, but will find themselves asking ‘why do it?'”

But when an avalanche brings the journey to a halt and an arrogant American art dealer turns up dead from multiple stab wounds in his locked cabin, Poirot is quickly on the case, with only a handful of clues and over a dozen suspects.

Could the killer be the Professor (Willem Dafoe), the Princess (Judi Dench), the Governess (Daisy Ridley), the Widow (Michelle Pfeiffer), the Maid (Olivia Colman), the Missionary (Penelope Cruz), the Assistant (Josh Gad), or the always suspect Butler (Derek Jacobi)? And what’s the connection between the crime and the infamous abduction and murder of a child two years earlier?

Murder on the Orient Express is a 1930s period piece and that’s what ultimately derails this modern remake – even with Johnny Depp and Daisy Ridley onboard, plus some impressive VFX, it feels more like an anachronism than a big popcorn blockbuster.

Box office will ultimately determine whether Poirot returns for Death on the Nile, but on the strength of this rather mediocre outing, it’s unlikely.

In cinemas: November 9, 2017
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh