I binged on all three episodes of Prime’s new production of Christie’s “The ABC Murders” (a Poirot) last night. My reactions to it are all over the place. Good stuff first.
John Malkovich is always worth watching. His character is beautifully portrayed, subtle in spots and over the top in other spots, and all just the right spots. Most of the rest of the cast are unremarkable, but when Malkovich is in the production the rest of the cast are mechanicals anyway.
It’s gorgeously shot. Visually engaging, so props to production design and cinematography.
I enjoyed it thoroughly as a standalone film. But it’s not without big, glaring flaws.
As an adaptation of Christie and an implementation of Poirot, it’s somewhere between bad and mediocre. Though it’s faithful to the original in terms of plot structure, it plays fast and loose not only with some of the minor characters but with the canonical “facts” of Poirot himself. That will not do. And Malkovich’s Poirot – while fascinating and worthwhile as a “great detective gone over the hill” is out of keeping with the character Christie wrote. He was a better Poirot than Branagh though, by miles.
The script could have used a LOT of editing; for one thing it suffered from a lot of usage anachronisms. Pace and direction-wise there seemed to me to be a great deal of filler, stuff added or scenes stretched to fill the three episode format.
I guess I give it three out of five, but a strong three. It’s worth watching on its own if just for Malkovich’s performance. If – like me – you collect Poirot adaptations, then you need to watch it. If you’re not into Christie/Poirot/period detective-crime fiction then it hinges on your appreciation of John Malkovich.