Verdict - A classic butchered !
Murder on the orient express is one of the first mystery novels that I read. In fact that was the first serious novel that I read. Since then I held Agatha Christie in high regard. Sure Sherlock Holmes has got more publicity and high brand value but Hercule Poirot the Belgian shrewd wolf was no less a detective in stature and popularity among crime or murder mystery readers. Much before Bond and his shaken not stirred eccentricity came in fashion, Hercule Poirot's insistence of having two similar shape boiled eggs for breakfast was stuff of legends.
Murder on the orient express is a novel of mystery, revenge and true justice. I wish to write not anymore because if you have not yet read it then it is one of the greatest written whodunit and giving spoilers would be a crime.
So the director picked up a tough challenge when he attempts to create a classic on screen and in the process he has butchered the classic completely. The introduction sequence of Poirot is very well handled and the movie has some great one liners -most of them are picked up from Christie's novels. But then you need to be very prepared to make a movie which lives up to the reputation of a writer who has been famously called "queen of crime" by critics.
There are some great actors in this ensemble cast but they cannot make up for the shallowness of the screenplay. The first mistake the director makes is insisting on keeping the screenplay at less than two hours. You cannot create the depth of such an epic novel on screen in such a short time unless you are a gifted screenplay writer.
The climax has been handled with a "college stage play" attitude. A climax which gives you goosebumps when you read it for the first time.
You can watch it for the love of the novel and console yourself that someone tried another screen adaptation of a classic but be prepared to walk out totally disappointed.
Try the 1974 version, that one is a better adaptation by a million miles.