Book vs. 2018 BBC John Malkovich vs. David Suchet. Winner: Suchet, followed by book, then Malkovich. Unlike the Suchet adaption, the BBC's attempt isBook vs. 2018 BBC John Malkovich vs. David Suchet. Winner: Suchet, followed by book, then Malkovich. Unlike the Suchet adaption, the BBC's attempt is nothing like the book. Malkovich is a terrible Poirot. Other than Andrew Buchanan's superb performance in the last ten minutes of the dreary, drawn out 180-minute saga, the 2018 sexed up adaption is not worth watching. There's no Hastings, no Japp and no humour. Don't waste your time.
Read in anticipation of the BBC adaptation of John Malkovich as Poirot, I can't really see how the BBC can do any worse than Christie. The ABC Murders is deadly boring, pun intended.
Murder on the Orient Express was my first Poirot novel, and although I enjoyed the story, I despised the arrogant Poirot. ABC's synopsis sounded like an exhilarating game of Cat and Mouse: A 'catch me if you can' serial killer calling himself A.B.C. taunts Poirot in letters sent to him providing advance warning of the time and place of the murder with the victim names and towns always starting with the same letter, and following in alphabetical order A to Z. ABC railway guides are left at every murder scene as the killer's calling card.
Now doesn't that sound exciting?
I have to admit before embarking on this read I hoped the killer would make it to 'P' and hunt Poirot down. Oddly, Poirot's likability increased with the introduction of Hastings, the Watson to Poirot's Sherlock Holmes. Hastings has a humanizing effect on the pompous know-it-all, helping to reveal human weakness - Poirot's vanity in using hair dye and his apparent OCD, for example.
As for the plot, it's all talk and little 'action'. About 44% in, three murders have been committed, all crime scenes have been attended and all persons involved in the victims' lives have been interviewed. The 'D' murder in Doncaster, the last killing, doesn't occur until 71%. Mostly meaningless chit-chat occurs in-between, slowing the pace to a snail's speed. Skimming was the only way to finish this one because I no longer cared about unmasking the murderer or uncovering their motive, finishing ABC before the BBC show aired was all that mattered. However, upon discovering the culprit, I understood why the chit-chat was necessary, I just wish it had been more interesting.
Although the pacing was off, the characters are well drawn. Each individual has a distinct personality and detailed backstory. They're all very different people with their own sets of character flaws.
It's a shame there were no more murders after 'D', as I shared Dr. Thompson's curiosity: "Interesting to know how he'd have dealt with the letter X."
Overall, The ABC Murders wasn't the best read. A cracker of a concept, fully fledged characters with wobbly pacing, in need of a tighter second half, to deliver, perhaps, a shorter story. I look forward to John Malkovich's take on Poirot. Anything is better than Kenneth Branagh.
Intriguing quotes: "It's like all those quiet people, when they do lose their tempers they lose them with a vengeance."
Hastings: "If you could order a crime as one orders a dinner, what would you choose? Poirot: "Supposing that four people sit down to play bridge and one, the odd man out, sits in a chair by the fire. At the end of the evening the man by the fire is found dead. One of the four, while he is dummy, has gone over and killed him, and intent on the play of the hand, the other three have not noticed. Ah, there would be a crime for you! Which of the four was it?"...more
This can't be a trilogy. When is book #4?! You only gave away who Ceasar is in the very last line. I want to see the war. I want to see Rogan-Baylor bThis can't be a trilogy. When is book #4?! You only gave away who Ceasar is in the very last line. I want to see the war. I want to see Rogan-Baylor babies. You can't end it there!!!!...more
(1) The picture painted of Rachel Argyll's character, our murder victim, was an interestinBook vs. 2018 BBC Adaptation = Adaptation wins.
(1) The picture painted of Rachel Argyll's character, our murder victim, was an interesting one. She becomes a collector of orphaned and unwanted children in order to fill a hole in her life that can't be filled, and while she looks after their every physical need, she's as guilty of neglect as the parents of those unwanted children in her care. She's unable to love. She shows no affection for her husband or her adopted children. They are things to be manipulated and controlled with money - a side effect of being rich, perhaps.
(2) Plot Hole Central, which means the ending doesn't make sense. (view spoiler)[If Jack knew who the killer was, why didn't he sing like a canary when he was imprisoned for his mother's murder? Granted, he coerced Kirsten into it so he could still have headed for the slammer, but it would be worth a shot. (hide spoiler)]
(3) The killer is someone so obvious that I dismissed them as a red herring. I was disappointed when I found out.
Conclusion: This is definitely not Christie's best work, far from it.
2018 BBC Adaption Review
Three hours in total. The first 2 hours were utter tedium - my attention drifted so often I had to rewind bits to check I hadn't missed anything. Nope, nothing much happens, apart from some swearing and crass sexual insults for shock value.
Part of the reason for the boredom was the portrayal of the characters. Unlike the book, all of them were horrible people. There was no trace of subtlety, ambiguity, nuance and naivety which made these characters flawed yet relatable.
I was also annoyed that historical elements had been whitewashed, such as the source of Philip's paralysis. In the book, it's polio. In the BBC adaption, it's a car crash.
Everything seemed exaggerated and sensationalized and that was rubbing me up the wrong way, especially Gwenda's absurd, cheap-looking wig. Seriously, you're the BBC, buy a better wig.
That third hour, though - that's where the action was, the juicy motives came thick and fast. Hester's was the most abhorrent. (view spoiler)[She had run off and eloped and was three months pregnant when Mummy Dearest turned up to pay the husband £500 (a fortune back then) to leave and never return, drugged Hester, had her examined and then ordered the doctor to perform an abortion. (hide spoiler)] If anyone had done that to me, they'd suffer a slow and very torturous death. To be violated like that, I can think of nothing worse. This doesn't happen in the book.
Other differences include the killer. Three murders are committed in the BBC version instead of two, though it is the same characters who die. The new killer,(view spoiler)[Leo Argyll, played by Bill Nighy, wasn't a surprise, however, his quiet and unassuming demeanour became rather sinister as he matter-of-factly kills his wife to stop her from divorcing his adulterous (and statutory rapist) arse and leaving him poor, has Jack murdered to prevent him from causing a scandal in his trial, and calls in the medics to drug and drag Dr. Calgary back to the psych ward to silence him. (hide spoiler)]
What's most notable in this change of killer is the amending of Jack's relationships. (view spoiler)[Instead of seducing Kirsten, he is, in fact, Kirsten's son, conceived when she was 15 by a predatory Leo Argyll. (hide spoiler)] After Jack's vilification throughout, this revelation humanizes him. He sees his outrageous behaviour in a new light. It fits Christie's narrative.
The above alterations made sense, along with the change to Dr. Calgary's "amnesia". The reason he doesn't come forward sooner isn't that he went on an expedition - he was supposed to be heading there, but he ended up in a psychiatric hospital instead. Schizophrenia seemed to be his issue. He travels to the Argyll's as soon as he's released. His fragile mental state and vulnerability is well played by Luke Treadaway.
So much happened in that third and last hour to rectify the damage done in the first two. Action-wise, it made the first two hours look like a recording of tumbleweed blowing in the wind. I wouldn't blame anyone for giving up before getting to that non-stop brilliant ending.
Book vs. 2018 BBC Adaptation = Adaptation wins.
Finished with minutes to go before the BBC adaptation is aired tonight. Book & Adaption review to come....more