When you think of a backdrop for a classic whodunit, a steam train traveling through the mountains on a snowy night fits the bill nicely. It gets even better when that context is paired with a robust story and Shakespearian actor like Kenneth Branagh.

That exact combination of elements is what makes the latest adaption of “Murder on the Orient Express” a great time at the theater.

The story centers on world-renowned detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) who has just wrapped up a large case. Looking to relax a bit as he travels to his next assignment he boards the Orient Express in what he hopes to be an uneventful journey. However, fate has other plans in mind for the detective. During the night it is discovered that one of the passengers has been murdered in his sleep. With all of the passengers a suspect, the train company hires him to solve the mystery.

Unlike most modern flicks that depend on gimmicks or special effects to keep the audience’s attention, “Murder on the Orient Express” leaves those behind. The movie is based on the classic novel written by English author Agatha Christie. What draws the audience into its narrative is its compelling story driven by colorful characters.

Over the years, this novel has been adapted for radio, television, and film. Some of these adaptations have been good while others were lackluster. I’ve read the book a half a dozen times and the plot twists still always draw me into the story. I can say this is one of the better adaptions.

The new movie “Murder on the Orient Express” is a pleasure to watch.

Branagh delivers a tremendous performance-staying true to the Poirot’s meticulous nature but doesn’t to make him out to be a person who has an obsessive-compulsive disorder. He makes the character into someone that is very believable in a world where the truth is buried. The supporting cast made up of such thespians as Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, and Josh Gad round out the story with their performances.

This is a great film that makes a trip to the theater a real treat. So if you are looking for something to see over this holiday weekend with a story that commands your attention then buy a ticket for “Murder on the Orient Express” and hop aboard.

I give this movie four and a half mustaches out of five.

Murder on the Orient Express is rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements. It runs 114 minutes.