The ABC Murders Amazon series, much like its Agatha Christie predecessor ‘And Then There Were None‘, gathers a stellar ensemble for a brooding, unhurried narrative that lacks the pzazz of the original books.
The ABC Murders marks the resurrection of the legendary Hercule Poirot, one of Christie’s most iconic and timeless characters, in this latest series of adaptations.
Out with the old and in with the new, as they say! David Suchet’s iconic portrayal of the character lasted a decade, but now John Malkovich has taken the reins.
Malkovich’s performance is a departure from Suchet’s humour and charisma, instead opting for a more solemn and repentant demeanour.
In the tv series, we witness the legendary Poirot in the twilight of his career.
Gone are the days of his fame and fortune, and his trusty sidekick Hastings is nowhere in sight, not even a mention of him. With a snap of the fingers, the show bids adieu to yet another chum of Poirot’s, paving the way for an adaptation that is completely fixated on the shadows.
Poirot’s past comes back to haunt him, as patchwork flashbacks reveal his history over the course of three episodes. The shocking finale unveils a brand new origin for the detective, which is sure to split fans down the middle.
Little did he know, the series began with a letter that would pull him back into the world of investigations, taunting him with a string of murders he couldn’t stop.
Naturally, the ABCs are at play here, as the killer selects victims whose surnames match each letter of the alphabet, residing along a British railway line that commences with said letter. Beware, oh ye Asher of Andover, for danger may be lurking.
Poirot brings the case to Scotland Yard, only to be brushed off and left with a bruised ego by the greenhorn Inspector Crome (Rupert Grint). Little did Crome know what he was getting himself into with this case. Soon enough, a family member of one of the victims hired Poirot to take matters into his own hands and conduct his own investigation.
In The ABC Murders, Poirot is forced to confront his inner demons and live a life of penance, grappling with the shame and sorrow that haunt him. He may have tried to show off his usual arrogance and frankness, but alas, it was all for naught as he appeared meek and subdued in this depiction.
The murders are far from a walk in the park, they are downright grisly with prolonged scenes of lifeless bodies and blood oozing out of them (and more).
Appearances can be deceiving, my dear Watson.
Though the culprit may seem to be unmasked at the outset, any true aficionado of Christie’s mysteries knows that there is always more to the tale than first meets the eye.
All good things come to those who wait, but when the truth finally comes out, it feels like a race to the finish line after a long and winding road.
While some of the murderer’s plans are laid bare, there are still some loose ends that writer Sarah Phelps (who also adapted And Then There Were None) seems keen on exploring, without any rhyme or reason within the tale.
The inclusion of some rough dialogue flourishes seems out of place in this tale set in 1933, and hardly in keeping with Christie’s style.
Well, that conversation about breaking up ‘big poops with a stick‘ is not exactly the kind of opening act I was hoping for, especially without a humorous twist to it.
The ABC Murders is the quintessential Christie tale, complete with all the twists and turns of a thrilling crime mystery. It’s a classic case of too many cooks in the kitchen, as the structure was tinkered with too much, leaving the end result lacking the pzazz it deserves.
And to top it off, the sombre and dreary tone falls short of expectations.