The ABC Murders 2018 crime, drama, mystery
(3 episode mini-series; stream via Amazon Prime)
One thing needs to be said at the beginning: Ignore the negative reviews by purists who have zero tolerance for any deviation from the Agatha Christie story. Question: I understand that, for many mystery readers, Agatha is the Queen of Whodunits, but since when did her fictional murder mysteries become sacred cows? She was a tier 2 mystery writer that I rank far below Robert Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Eric Ambler and Ross MacDonald. And I think Malcovich’s Hercule Poirot is the best ever. I always considered the David Suchet/Inspector Poirot to be effeminate and highly annoying. That said the mini-series is not for everyone. It's a kind of production one either loves or hates, with not much in between.
The thing that divides the viewers is the way Poirot was portrayed in the series, which is very different from what we are used to. Here we get a much darker and realistic version of this beloved character, and the whole world of the show is much more brutal as well. This is not the cozy, sanitized, light storyline shown in the old Masterpiece Theater versions. The new style and characterizations fit the dark story perfectly. The cinematography is a work of art and 1930’s England is faithfully presented.
I really enjoyed this new approach to the classic character. Otherwise it would be the same story with different actors, and I don't see the point in doing that. Resetting the story to a future point where Inspector Japp and Poirot are both retired gives the story a new perspective that I found to be brilliant. Gone are Poirot's silly, waxed mustache and oily, slicked down hair. The actors fit perfectly into this new "tougher, masculine Poirot". John Malkovich is brilliant as the shunned, half-forgotten detective dealing with past trauma, Eamon Farren is perfect as the confused Cust, Tara Fitzgerald nailed a complex, tragic character, and I even liked Rupert Grint even though he got off to a rough start.
To sum up, the 2018 ABC series is not for everyone. It's definitely not for the grannies, who want the show to stay rigidly truthful to the novels. Those types should stick with the Masterpiece Theater. But for people like me, who enjoy new tales about classic and intelligent characters and who love dark, hard-boiled stories, it is perfect. The next day I was thinking about how Poirot zeroed in on the real killer. It was so smooth and subtle – I had to watch it again the next day.
Written by Ben Clark. Copyright 2016-2023. All rights reserved.