Title – Death on the Nile (2022)
Director – Kenneth Branagh (Belfast)
Cast – Kenneth Branagh, Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot, Dawn French, Annette Bening, Russell Brand
Plot – On vacation in Egypt during the late 1930’s, famed detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) gets caught up in the murder of rich heiress Linnet Ridgeway (Gadot) when the unfortunate soul is murdered on a boat full of potential suspects.
“I am detective Hercule Poirot, and I will deliver your killer”
Review by Eddie on 11/02/2022
A pleasant enough if unremarkable experience, Kenneth Branagh’s first foray as Agatha Christie’s famed detective Hercule Poirot in 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express created enough buzz around the world to be considered one of the years most surprising box office hits, with it quickly announced in the aftermath of the films release that Branagh would be back behind of and in front of the camera again with another famous Poirot outing, Death on the Nile.
Suffering an abundance of release set backs that can be traced back all the way to 2019, the Covid affected 2020 and then the Armie Hammer saga that forced Nile to quickly do its best to erase traces of the one-time A-lister from its marketing throughout 2021, Nile has not had an easy run to its eventual cinematic release and now that it’s finally here for public consumption it’s sure to be a film that fans of the first Branagh lead outing will enjoy, even if this watchable but entirely unenthusiastic experience does little to inspire much excitement.
Loaded to the brim with star talent that includes help for Branagh from the likes of Gal Gadot, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Dawn French, Letitia Wright and dare we say his name once more Armie Hammer, Nile is a prestigious feeling film (even if slightly over CGI’d) and there’s always joy to be had when watching such talented performers act off one another and be a part of an ensemble as talented as this one is but the films po-faced delivery and uninspiring play by play doesn’t do much to help its cause as Christie’s typically constructed whodunit gets by with enough mystery and eye-candy to keep us watching without ever being overly engaged or stimulated.
It’s a shame Branagh wasn’t able to give his film more exciting elements, the setting of the Egypt located murder mystery and the colorful bunch of characters should’ve allowed for a very playful and even at times exhilarating cinematic spectacle but Nile often feels as though it’s merely coasting along, much like the large ship where the action takes place on does, content with ticking off Poirot’s procedural without ever conjuring up any magic of its own to inspire an attempt at lasting long in a viewers memory.
Where the film does find some neat components is in allowing us to get a better understanding of who Poirot is.
Unlike Orient Express, Nile delves at times further into the cold and calculating detectives back story and even motivations, making the larger than life mustached mans world feel far more lived in and while there’s nothing remotely outstanding about the way in which Branagh plays the classic literary character, it’s a bonus for the film to give more weight to its central figure, even if everyone else around him feels like mere passengers to a story that is neither deep enough nor alive enough to elevate this film to a must-watch status.
Final Say –
Perfectly watchable without ever gripping or engaging like the best whodunits do, Death on the Nile is a pleasant enough diversion but suggests that the days of Branagh’s Poirot series is unlikely to be long lasting based on this middle of the road affair.
3 kites out of 5
Despite the film’s missteps (the first hour was slow, a few noticeable green screen backgrounds, and execution nuances), I still really enjoyed watching this movie. Like Orient Express, it felt like a stylish vintage “old school” murder mystery.
Those green screen moments early on were actually quite jarring! Especially for such a big budget film with so much time to get the work done right.
It was still pleasant to watch for me, but didn’t really find it had anything noteworthy going for it, even if as you say a nice old school feel isn’t the worst thing.
I suspect Murder on the Orient Express was a fluke success because of its novelty (and some name recognition), and trying to make a series of these probably won’t come off. It’s also a little disappointing that they keep remaking the 1970s films when there are so many Agatha Christie stories to choose from.
The cast in this also seems much less starry and interesting than either Orient Express or the 70s version. That had Ustinov, Maggie Smith, Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury and David Niven, whereas this one has Dawn French and Russell Brand …
Some great points!
I can’t see this one doing too well overall I’d be surprised if it even made half the first outings box office haul.
Like you, I’m not really convinced by the fake style adopted by Branagh in the movie. This CGI Egypt for tourism adverts plays against the claustrophobic atmosphere. Everyone is locked in a role, just as we are in a game, and Branagh unlikely Belgian character as well.
Yeh it was a bit much here. While it felt old school at times in nature the over CGI use took some of that nice element away from it all.
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