As they are all gathered together, a disembodied announcement is made declaring each person's murderous guilt, including the Owens' new shy and lovely secretary, Vera Claythorne (Maeve Dermody, Serangoon Road), and their butler and cook/maid, Thomas (Noah Taylor, Game of Thrones, Predestination) and Ethel Rogers (Anna Maxwell Martin, Midwinter of the Spirit). The other invited guests include the prominent Judge Lawrence Hargrave (Charles Dance, Game of Thrones), specialist Dr. Edward Armstrong (Toby Stephens, Black Sails), D.S. William Blore (Burn Gorman, Forever), although he is incognito at first, dashing mercenary Philip Lombard (Aidan Turner), wealthy young hotshot Anthony Marston (Douglas Booth), uptight and condescending Emily Brent (Miranda Richardson), and stalwart General John MacArthur (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park). Their supposed reasons for being drawn to the island vary greatly, but it soon becomes clear that they have been brought here so that deadly judgment for their hidden crimes can be dispensed upon them. As they begin to die horribly, one by one, the remaining souls soon realize that their deaths are not only tied to a poem displayed in every room about 10 little soldiers and their deaths, but also to a collection of unusual jade figurines on the main table... a collection that starts off at 10, but diminishes by one with each death.
As the remaining group struggles to determine who their mystery host is and why he or she would want them all dead, they slowly begin revealing their guilt to one another. Some form alliances with others in the hopes of saving their skin, while others alienate themselves, hoping that by being alone, they might escape fate's hand. As the time passes, we get glimpses into the past of each person and see just what they did to deserve their fates. Some killed because of selfishness and stupidity, others for reasons of greed or vice, and still others to serve their own twisted purpose. As the days pass, the few remaining realize that they are simply awaiting their doom and that no one is coming to rescue them. Who could the killer be, aside from one of the remaining hunted? As panic and dread permeate the island, imaginations begin to run wild and aid the killer in carrying out the deadly machination. What unfolds is quite simply the perfect murder plan.
And Then There Were None has been done many times over, whether under that moniker or Ten Little Indians, as it is also known. It is one of Agatha Christie's most popular novels, and I love that Sarah Phelps' (The Casual Vacancy) adaptation stays so true to the book. As the plot unfolds, you can feel the mania building as each person is deliberating their fate and what they have done. How will they die? Which form of punishment will be meted out to them? Who could be doing this and why? Can anyone be trusted? Even being just a spectator to this brutal dispensation of justice, you will feel the anxiety and desolation that Soldier Island brings.
The acting is simply superb. I mean, really, just look at the ensemble dream cast. Each person plays their part perfectly and with such nuanced depth that you almost feel sorry for them. Almost. The island setting is breathtaking and the sets are at once sumptuous and welcoming, while also being foreboding and threatening, with their deadly poems scattered about and slightly menacing decorative pieces.
The special features include a hefty making-of where all of the cast members are interviewed, along with the production team; a featurette on Agatha Christie herself; an interview with Sarah Phelps and her process for adapting the novel into the script; and finally a photo gallery. There is some overlap in small portions of the featurettes, but they are all still enjoyable and interesting to watch.
I am a big Agatha Christie fan and love the movie adaptations of her works, and this adaptation of And Then There Were None has easily become one of my favorites, only to be surpassed by Evil Under the Sun (starring Toby Stephens' prolific mother, Maggie Smith). If you love a good mystery and especially if you are a fan of Agatha Christie, this is must see stuff. The visuals are gorgeous, the acting is amazing, the story is brilliant, and the suspense is unparalleled. It is definitely a film I'd watch several times just to pick up on things I might have missed the first time. Just go buy it already, so you can share it with your friends.