Kenneth Branagh returns as the world’s best detective, Hercule Poirot, in his second Agatha Christie adaptation, Death on the Nile.
Is the new murder mystery any good? Well, it’s simultaneously an improvement on and a step down from his last go-round, if that answers your question.
Read more in our review below.
Death on the Nile Is Here For A Good Time
After it faced many delays, 20th Century Studios’ second remake of a classic Agatha Christie novel, finally hit theatres around the world. But it wasn’t an easy route, as three of its main stars (Armie Hammer, Letitia Wright and Gal Gadot) are in a troubled position at this time due to different reasons.
Branagh returns in his famous role as the world greatest detective Hercule Poirot, after he first played the part in 2017’s remake of Murder on the Orient Express, in which he co-starred along the likes of: Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr. and Judi Dench. Branagh also directed both films, which also have both been adapted by the same author, Michael Green. But is Poirot’s latest mystery worth the long wait? Well, kind of.
Death on the Nile transports the world’s best detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) to Egypt, where he joins the honeymoon and celebrations of newlyweds Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) and Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot). When the celebration is moved to Karnak and the Nile, intrigue comes to a head until Poirot finds himself on his next case.
Branagh definitely upped his game in the directing chair compared to Murder in the Orient Express. There is a gorgeous yet unnecessarily black-and-white opening sequence in which we see a young Poirot using his skills to win a battle in the First World War, and some well-executed sequences on the Nile that capture the passengers and suspects in a dynamic and exciting way. He definitely found his angle to helm those kind of films.
And it’s also worth noting that his Hercule Poirot is yet again the highlight of the film and cast, as Branagh plays the detective as charming and clever as ever. While talking about the cast, the suspects in Death on the Nile can’t compete with the star power of 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express. Aside from the obvious problems with the leading actors (Hammer especially), none of the other cast members really get to make a lasting impact with their characters.
Tom Bateman may be the exception, as he plays the heart and emotional anchor of the film. The great Emma Mackey also shines in her role as Jacqueline de Bellefort, giving an intriguing and layered performance – exactly the kind you need in this genre.
The backstory for Branagh’s Poirot is sprinkled through Death on the Nile, but never gets enough attention to fully justify the slow opening of the film. Death on the Nile definitely would have benefitted from a more compact runtime, as it does take the film a good time to end up in Egypt and then even more time to get its characters on the Nile. While it obviously has to establish some things, the film takes too much time for it.
As soon as we finally get all the characters on the boat, the film picks up some steam and becomes an intriguing mystery for people who either haven’t seen the original film or read the famous book. While you don’t need to be a detective to find out who the killer is, the film keeps you guessing long enough for an intriguing time on the Nile.
While I’ve already mentioned Branagh’s directing as a strength, Death on the Nile lacks a bit in the visual department. Some ugly green screen shots here and there take you out of the moment, in contrast with the beautiful shots of the Nile and its surroundings or the Sphinx and Pyramids. It quickly becomes obvious that this film wasn’t completely shot on location.
Branagh’s second Agatha Christie adaptation is a solid follow-up to Murder on the Orient Express, with noticeable improvements in certain departments and downgrades in other. It takes too long to get going, but it still becomes an intriguing murder mystery in the film’s second half. While I prefer Branagh’s first outing as Hercule Poirot, I still had a decent time on the Nile.
Death on the Nile is now playing in theatres.
Death on the Nile is written by Michael Green and directed by Kenneth Branagh. It stars: Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Tome Bateman, Emma Mackey, Letitia Wright, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Rose Leslie, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders and Kenneth Branagh.
Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot’s Egyptian vacation aboard a glamorous river steamer turns into a terrifying search for a murderer when a picture-perfect couple’s idyllic honeymoon is tragically cut short. Set against an epic landscape of sweeping desert vistas and the majestic Giza pyramids, this dramatic tale of love gone wrong features a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travelers and enough wicked twists and turns to leave audiences guessing until the final, shocking denouement.
What do you guys think? Are you planning to watch Death on the Nile? Have you seen it already, if so how did you like it? Let’s discuss everything in the comments down below and on our social media.