Series Directed By: Alex Gabassi (3 episodes, 2018)
Series Writing credits: Agatha Christie (3 episodes, 2018)
Sarah Phelps (3 episodes, 2018)
Cast: John Malkovich, Eamon Farren, Michael Shaeffer , Rupert Grint ...
Format: PAL format DVD (This will not play on most DVD players sold in the U.S., U.S. Territories, Canada)
Also available at Amazon Prime (streaming)
Release Date: 1 February, 2019 (USA)
Runtime: 2 hours and 51 minutes / approximately 60 min per episode (3 episodes )
Genres: Crime | Drama | Mystery | TV Mini-Series – 3 episodes (2018)
by Cherie Jung
In 1933, a very old and weary retired detective, Hercule Poirot, as portrayed by John Malkovich, is taunted by a killer who posts clues to Poirot, in letters foreshadowing the next death. The anonymous killer signs his typewritten letters “ABC.” Poirot feels compelled to decode the letters in order to discover the identity of the murderer. Initially there is no interest in Poirot’s theories about the killings or the killer, especially at Scotland Yard.
First off, I am a fan of David Suchet’s portrayal of Hercule Poirot. Though other actors have portrayed Agatha Christie’s Poirot – Peter Ustinov, Albert Finney, Kenneth Branagh among them – I prefer David Suchet’s portrayal of Poirot. Rather like I prefer Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes though I’ve watched other actors’ portrayal of Holmes and some were quite good, but just not on the caliber of Brett’s.
John Malkovich’s portrayal of Poirot was acceptable but mediocre. Not entirely his fault, given what he was forced to work with, script wise. I think part of the problem was due to the mish-mash of flashbacks regarding Poirot’s “secret past” before he joined other refugees escaping from Belgium to England in the build up to World War I. As Poirot himself said at one point, “It isn’t relevant.” And he was right. In the unraveling of the storyline the numerous brief but repeated images inserted into the story quickly become annoying. So, too, the underlining fear of fascism and the mistreatment of “aliens” – in the “not white, not from our country” meaning, not space beings from outer space. The anti-immigrant posters, the shouting, the alleged spitting, the viciousness of the mob mentality. I get it. I don’t need to be bashed over the head or continually assaulted by the “message” throughout the mini-series. I get it. Now get back to the murders, please!
Why three episodes?!? Again, this adaptation could have been adequately told in 90 minutes. My unsubstantiated opinion is that the recent Agatha Christie based mini-series’ lengths are determined more by a time-slot that needs to be filled rather than how much time is actually needed to tell the story.
John Malkovich should have put his talents to a better project. He was wasted in this version of “THE ABC MURDERS.”
I can’t think of a reason to film this book again...except for money. It certainly didn’t bring anything to the screen to warrant another re-telling of the tale.
I’m not a die-hard Agatha Christie fan but I do enjoy, and re-watch, many of the screen adaptations of Christie’s works filmed over the years. I don’t think this version of “THE ABC MURDERS” is going to please very many fans, nor will it persuade the anti-Sarah Phelps viewers that she has a clue how to adapt an Agatha Christie work to the visual media.
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