The works of famed author Agatha Christie are going to be popping up on the big screen in the near future. Over the summer, Ben Affleck signed on to helm a remake of Witness for the Prosecution, and he isn’t the only high-profile director looking to update one of Christie’s titles for a modern audience. Kenneth Branagh is in line to direct Murder on the Orient Express, which is a remake of the Oscar-winning 1974 crime drama from Sidney Lumet. It tells the story of detective Hercule Poirot, who is tasked with solving the death of a wealthy American traveling on a train.
Branagh has assembled an A-list ensemble, which includes himself, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Peña, Daisy Ridley, and Judi Dench (among others). That collection of talent was more than enough to get cinephiles excited about this new take on a classic tale, and now the film’s star power increases with the addition of Penelope Cruz.
The news comes courtesy of Deadline, but the report does not say which role the Academy Award winner will be playing. Odds are, Cruz will portray one of the 13 suspects Poirot investigates while on the case, but with so little information available, it’s difficult to say for sure. With production set to begin shortly, one would think Cruz’s character will be revealed soon.
For Murder on the Orient Express, Branagh will be drawing from a script by Michael Green, who is set to have a make or break year in 2017. This is one of four films on the horizon written by Green, who also penned Logan, Blade Runner 2049, and Alien: Covenant. His only other movie credit is the maligned 2011 Green Lantern, but Green did receive a Writers Guild nomination for his work on Heroes in 2007. He does have some talent, and the source material for Orient Express is strong enough that he should be able to craft a compelling mystery for the film adaptation.
Some viewers may be questioning the need for a Murder on the Orient Express remake, especially since the original version was so successful. However, there have been plenty of excellent remakes over the years, and this one certainly has the potential to join those ranks. Branagh is a consistently solid director known for his Shakespeare-inspired films, and he earned much praise for Disney’s live-action Cinderella last year. It’s also hard to bet against the cast that has been drawn to the project. Yes, there have been instances where a great ensemble has been wasted, but Branagh deserves the benefit of the doubt for now. Murder on the Orient Express is one of the more intriguing offerings next fall, and it’ll be interesting to see it come into fruition.