I saw the original adaption of the novel a while back and it was pretty good. I’d say that this film was also enjoyable and at about the same level even though it was clearly not as good as the original. Just about anything that this film could do, the older one could do better. I do wonder how a more modern adaption of this film would go, no doubt it would probably not be as good. That being said, I’d love to see an ensemble cast try to tackle this film. We could have Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Chris Pratt, Arnie, Chuck Norris, and whoever else is super popular at the moment. It would be an interesting mix of personalities, which is why ensemble films are typically so fun.
As you may expect, ten people are invited to a mysterious place over on a mountain. The host invited everyone over on false pretenses, but once the ten arrive at the mansion he is nowhere to be seen. Instead they listen to a recording which exposes their previous murders and the characters start to die off one by one in ways that are very similar to how the 10 little Indians went out in a poem. Can they figure out which person among them is actually the nefarious host or are they all doomed to simply fade away into oblivion?
I quickly have to mention one big change from the first film which wasn’t cool. The original adaption had a fisherman who drove everyone to the island. The first adaption ended with him walking up slowly to the mansion while eating a sandwich. It was a humorous way to end the murder thriller and you could tell that this was someone that you didn’t mess with. Even the murderer wanted nothing to do with him. Unfortunately, this version took place on a mountain so there was no boat ride to begin with. A bit of a missed opportunity if you ask me.
As I mentioned earlier, there are other aspects where this film isn’t as good. For starters, we have Mike. He was a decent character in the first film and a music guy who may not have had much of a personality, but it wasn’t a bad one. Here, he’s only interested in romance and just staring at another character who rejects him. It’s a negative change that just doesn’t work for me here. It’s not like most of the characters are that good anyway though. I’m not a fan of any character in particular at this point, but better to be a non character than a bad one right?
This film was slightly modernized though, which wasn’t a good thing. The romance isn’t handled as well as in the first film where it was pretty much nonexistence. Here, the characters are very quick to forget the danger and engage in their romance, but it’s not fitting considering the situation. As such, Ann and Hugh aren’t very likable characters. Hugh is the James Bond kind of guy who talks a good game and even has a gun for most of the film. It’s simply not enough to make him a cool character since this isn’t the time to flirt. Likewise, Ann is just as guilty and makes the situation harder for everyone by being very cryptic about her backstory. Just saying it would have saved the characters some time and the way that she gets scared by everything is a bit much as well.
The actress is all right I suppose, but she doesn’t add much to the story either. She’s probably also the least apologetic about her backstory, which came across as a little drastic. The main characters who were pretty likable where the old folks. It’s not too surprising as they engage in most of the witty banter and try to keep each other from making any hasty moves. The detective also keeps everyone in check as he does have some useful professional experience at his disposal.
Ultimately, it’s pretty intriguing to see all of the characters go down one by one. Granted, you have to suspend your disbelief as the film goes on. Why does nobody think to simply stake out the room where the Indian figures keep disappearing? Even once the culprit is found out…or to be more precise, the fact that the culprit is revealed to be just one person makes it a little harder to swallow. This person shouldn’t be able to move so quickly and evade everyone with such precision. I’m just not sure that I buy that. Of course, you don’t need to buy it to enjoy the film.
Another change from the first film is an extended fight scene where one of the butlers goes into a frenzy and attacks Hugh. It’s pretty interesting as this pretty much came out of nowhere. Unfortunately, the fight scene isn’t that good, but you will be surprised at how many times the fight stops and then starts again. The cheap shots just won’t stop, but there is a winner in the end so that’s good. The other characters (for the most part) talk tough about how they shouldn’t have fought, but Hugh wasn’t exactly given a choice so it’s good that he took the win. The butler then decided to leave the mountain on his own, which was probably one of the worst decisions that he could have made.
I will give the ending props for still coming across as fairly realistic. The plan was sound and I actually wouldn’t call it out for being unrealistic or full of plot hax. When you think about it, this film was thought out fairly well and while some plot hax is inevitable, it was a fun mystery from start to finish with no real cop outs. You just have to choose which character you think is guilty and then go on from there. I always like films like that since you can just make your pick and enjoy the film. If you were right, then it’s time to buy a snack afterwards. Of course, I knew who it was this time since I saw the original, but I imagine that a lot of people will only see one version of the film.
Overall, Ten Little Indians isn’t quite as good as the original adaption. The increased romance, the characters being less likable, and the fight scene actually being sub par kept it from reaching the same status as the original. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good film, but it’s just not as good. It follows the original quite closely even down to the script aside from these changes so it is still a good movie, but why not watch the original instead right? These classic mystery thrillers are definitely intense and black and white does fit in quite nicely for it. You can tell that this film is retro even though it was a little modernized. I’d be interested to see a 2010 or later remake, but I can tell that it probably wouldn’t be great. Something to think about though and this plot is certainly one that can easily be reused in a completely different context while still being effective. Make it happen Hollywood!