The story has been altered significantly from the original, along with several of the characters and motivations. However, in typical Christie fashion, evil deeds are revenged with everyone getting their due, and at no point is Poirot faced with the decision of whether or not to accept the hand of God outside of the law, unlike the situation on the Orient Express. In that, this stays true to the original story.
One of my favorite aspects of Poirot that Suchet plays brilliantly is the tender and protective way he behaves towards young women in distress. “Papa Poirot” makes an appearance several times in Appointment With Death and in Third Girl, but is notably absent in Murder on the Orient Express, which I think is another reason why I did not enjoy it as much. There were many opportunities for “Papa Poirot” to appear, and yet he did not.
The pacing, acting, and sensitive adaptations of Appointment With Death and Third Girl go a long way towards making up for the flaws of Murder on the Orient Express, but that one is keenly disappointing given the significance and acclaim of the original text. I hope that Suchet is provided another opportunity to bring Poirot to life in that story, but I fear that I will have to wait for the next Poirot and the next adaptation for the potential of something better.
Bonus Feature: David Suchet on the Orient Express
As one might assume from the title, this is a documentary of a trip taken by Suchet on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express from Calais to Venice to Prague. He shares bits of historical information about the restored cars on the train, the history of the train route, and the events related to the train that may have inspired Christie to write Murder on the Orient Express. I enjoyed watching Suchet enjoy himself so much on that trip, and reveled in the bits where he talked about Poirot and his own fascination with the background of the story he was about to bring to life on the small screen.
Despite my quibbles, it really comes down to the fact that ITV continues to produce high-quality films adapted from Christies books, and that Suchet continues to portray the quirky Belgian sleuth. For those things, I am thankful and eagerly await the next installment of Poirot stories.