While flipping channels a while ago, I paused on a British TV series based on an Agatha Christie novel. I had forgotten how pleasurable and exceedingly mild her whodunits can be. That may or may not be the case for Murder Mystery, an Agatha Christie-style, well, murder mystery. The title says it all. Charlize Theron is in talks to star in the project, which is being written by James Vanderbilt. John Madden will direct the indie action-comedy, which will be set in the Mediterranean and feature a couple caught up in a murder investigation on their honeymoon. The casting and credits lead me to believe different things about the nature of this project. I'll take a guess at how the project will turn out based on each suspect.
Will Charlize Theron play the ice queen? Between her role as the evil queen in Snow White and the Huntsman and no-nonsense commander Vickers in Prometheus, Theron has shown she can play an uptight, reserved person like no one else. When I think Christie, I think stuffy British duchesses, so perhaps Theron will play a variation on her ice queen parts.
Will James Vanderbilt make it dark like Zodiac? If Christie makes me think of gentle murder mysteries, Vanderbilt makes me think of the complete opposite. Zodiac, which he scripted, gave me nightmares, a rare attribute for any movie seen beyond the age of twelve. Vanderbilt's since had his name attached to the scripts for upcoming projects The Amazing Spider-Man, Robocop, and White House Down---all of which are several notches above your average Christie novel.
Is John Madden the best choice to capture a Christie-like tone? Madden is currently enjoying success with the ensemble retirement comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. He's also directed more high-octane pictures, like The Debt, but perhaps his best-known work was Shakespeare in Love, which won the Best Picture Oscar. He seems like the kind of director to put a light touch on his projects. The Brit has even directed old TV episodes of Sherlock Holmes adaptations. Madden won't have any problem channeling Christie as far as I'm concerned.
Another clue that the project will end up more light than dark--it's an indie action-comedy, meaning there will be a lower budget for the kind of special effects that have filled many of Vanderbilt's work. Perhaps Vanderbilt is using this project to expand his portfolio beyond the lucrative scripts-for-hire that he's been working on in recent years. This project will be a chance for him to branch out and be known for another original work. In the meantime, I may be indulging in the mild-mannered pleasures of Agatha Christie on Netflix.