Kenneth Branagh’s new adaptation of “Murder on the Orient Express” is okay. In other words, it’s fine. It’s passable. The movie is so pleasantly alright that it’s actually pretty difficult to come up with anything to say about it. Decades ago, this might not have been an issue. “Middle-market” movies like “Orient Express,” boasting a medium-sized budget, the backing of a big studio and a couple recognizable stars, used to be the backbone of the movie industry. Theoretically, this makes sense: If a studio puts out a larger number of semi-acclaimed, well-attended movies that translate to a modest profit, they could afford to take risks on a couple higher-budget blockbusters. Recent developments in Hollywood have tended toward an over-saturation of big-budget, star-studded “event movies,” or artsy, critically acclaimed indie gems. In a world where that “Certified Fresh” rating means the life or death of a movie, it’s riskier than ever to release an “okay” movie.

I actually sort of admire “Orient Express” in that respect. It hasn’t been forcing itself in anyone’s face through excessive advertisements or pushing a hype culture (who would be really excited for the fourth filmed reimagining of an Agatha Christie novel?), and the ensemble cast is filled with a few notable faces (Johnny Depp! Penelope Cruz! Daisy Ridley!) and other “huh-isn’t-that-the-guy-or-girl-in-that-one-movie” stars (Josh Gad! Judi Dench! Leslie Odom, Jr.!). Despite some consistently decent camerawork, direction and acting, “Orient Express” will fade into the recesses of the collective memory of everyone who saw it, and in 10 years, it will be remembered as “that one murder mystery movie on a train with that French guy.”

The movie is a classic whodunit, perhaps explaining why it’s been revived 83 years after Christie wrote the original novel. On a train ride from Istanbul back to France, renowned detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) finds his talents requested after Sam Ratchet (Depp), a passenger on the train, ends up murdered. What’s more, the train has been derailed by an avalanche, stranding the cabin of passengers in the mountains until help arrives. Poirot must use his detective skills to deduce who the true murderer is, but no passenger is actually who they seem. Through a web of past relationships, false identities and plot twists, Poirot solves the murder, grappling with the binary nature of morality along the way: Is it possible some people are neither good nor bad?

Branagh takes the helm again with this movie. He’s already proven himself an adept director and character actor. He did double-duty on the adaptation of “Hamlet” you watched in your high school English class, and among other ventures into Shakespeare’s body of work, he directed Marvel Studio’s “Thor” and Disney’s recent live-action “Cinderella” remake. Clearly, he knows what he’s doing either behind or in front of the camera. So, too, in “Orient Express,” Branagh directs and stars. His performance as the mustachioed Poirot is quite impressive: Branagh plays him with a gravitas complementing the oddities of the character (Poirot has an OCD-like obsession with balance, such that after inadvertently stepping in a pile of horse manure, he intentionally steps in with his other foot.) At first, the French accent he adopts struck me as irritating and forced, but eventually it stopped being bothersome. 

Unfortunately, Branagh isn’t much of a visually-oriented director. Though all the performances and dialogue are phenomenal — his Shakespearean training at work — the camera is underutilized. Some moments are great; in one shot through an angled window pane, for example, the glass’s refraction multiplies the faces of each of the passengers, a metaphor for the duplicity of each of their personalities. A flashback sequence near the end of the film demonstrates a real potential to use the camera as an effective storytelling tool, so why doesn’t Branagh consistently take advantage of it? The bulk of the film takes place in a cramped train cabin, limiting the camera’s potential, but even scenes taking place outside the train feel closed in and rushed. It’s also very disappointing that nearly every shot of the Orient Express itself is a computer generated composite, meaning it must be cheaper to animate a train than actually finding one in good enough condition to use in the movie.

The performances from the ensemble cast were all very good, nothing incredible or noteworthy, but no obvious weak links, either. Odom, Jr. surprises with a compelling performance as Dr. Arbuthnot, a pleasingly underplayed far cry from the showmanship of his role on Broadway in “Hamilton.” Speaking of far-cry performances, Ridley, known for her role as Rey, the heroine of the new “Star Wars” trilogy, does an excellent job as the mysterious and flirty Mary. Depp’s performance as Mr. Ratchett is fine enough, and just around the time you remember accusations of Depp’s domestic violence, Ratchett suffers the titular murder. Neither Dench as Princess Dragomiroff nor Willem Dafoe as Professor Hardman get enough screen time, which is a shame considering how the film fixates on Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad), a relatively goofy, unappealing character hiding a secret about Ratchett’s identity.

It’s really difficult to pick at flaws in “Orient Express.” It’s not a groundbreaking work of cinema, nor does it ever claim to be. It’s the kind of movie my mom likes: accessible, polished, safe. Is it really worth mentioning that early parts of the movie are paced awkwardly? Do I really care that the action sequences look copied from any number of historical crime thriller? Should I talk about the other film versions of “Orient Express,” or how this might be the definitive one? What might possibly be worth talking about, for such an inoffensive movie? “Orient Express” was enjoyable enough, whether or not audiences find this sort of movie interesting at all, and whether or not lukewarm critical reception will sound the death knell of cinema’s middle-market.

Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled the name Hercule Poirot. The Chronicle regrets the error.