Agatha Christie may be one of the finest detective writers of all time but her intricate and dialogue-heavy novels don’t exactly scream ‘gigantic $55 million Hollywood blockbuster’. Maybe this is why it feels like every ounce of drama has been squeezed out of this classic novel, and many more unnecessary moments added, to ‘ramp up the tension’ and appease a 21st century audience who wouldn’t settle for the characters simply being interviewed one by one before Poirot reaches his conclusion in the last few moments, à la the book.
This debate which star and director Kenneth Branagh had, whether to remain completely faithful to the book or change it significantly, seems to have pissed off both sides with die hard Christie fans complaining about these pointless changes and many others noting that he brings nothing new to the game.
One thing Branagh did get right, however, was allowing the audience to feast their eyes on some of the hottest (and most available) names in Hollywood including Judi Dench, Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp. Unfortunately this did mean he was able to cast himself too, with a dodgy Belgian accent and an even dodgier moustache to suit, trading in the subtlety of David Suchet’s Poirot for an incarnation who laughs openly when reading, proclaiming: “Oh Mr Dickens, you’ve done it again!”
With its star studded cast and shocking conclusion, don’t spoil it for yourself if you don’t know the end already. It is easy to see how, despite the sillier aspects, this will be a crowd pleaser. There aren’t many Hollywood murder mysteries anymore, maybe for a reason, but Branagh does seem to have tapped into an audience’s thirst for the genre and the wave of satisfaction when the mystery is unravelled in front of our very eyes.