‘Death on the Nile’ Review

To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Death on the Nile is a murder mystery film directed by Kenneth Branagh and sequel to Murder on the Orient Express. The film stars Branagh, returning as Hercule Poirot, alongside an ensemble cast including Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, and Letitia Wright. Based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, the story follows world-renowned Belgian private detective, Hercule Poirot, as he attempts to solve multiple murders that take place aboard the S.S. Karnak, an Egyptian riverboat.

Branagh does a great job of directing this film. He should continue as the director if the franchise continues. He knows the characters very well and manages to give the relatively large cast equal screen time. Not a single character feels left out even those that are not considered a main character. This is helped by Poirot’s deductive nature as he speaks to all the suspects. Branagh is also great in his role as Hercule Poirot. There is a flashback at the beginning of the film that shows how he gained his exotic mustache. Deaging is used on Branagh’s face to make him appear younger and the entire scene is tinted in black-and-white to help hide the effects. Once again the Poirot interviews feel personal and intimate as he tries to deduce who committed the murder. This time around however Poirot is more emotional as the murders end up hitting close to home. This adds a new layer to the character that was not seen in the previous film.

The other actors in the film turn in great performances as well. Tom Bateman returns as Bouc, Hercule Poirot’s young, rich, fast-talking friend. He plays a much bigger part of the story this time around and brings out more emotion from Poirot. He still provides much of the film’s comic relief and is a major factor in helping Poirot solve the case. Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer are fun as the newlyweds Simon and Linnet Doyle. They are all over each other the entire film which makes their marital status more believable. They are both as easy to hate as they are to love the more you find out about them as the film goes on. The rest of the cast pulls off fantastic performances given the screen time they are provided. All of the accents are done well and no actor feels miscast. Surprisingly the film has only two American actors which helps to add to the mystique of it all.

The costume and production design in the film are superb. Everything looks and feels like it’s from the early 1900s. Everybody is always dressed to the nines which was usually the case back then and especially if you came from money. You almost feel as if you’ve gone back in time since, unlike the previous film, Death on the Nile actually takes the viewer to a few more locations outside of the boat. The score also fits the period well adding suspense to every scene. While the film is very colorful, it could have been in black-and-white and still had the same amount of impact on the audience.

There is some spotty CGI throughout the film where you can tell the actors are standing in front of a green or blue screen as their environment looks fake. This could have been due to the COVID-19 pandemic not allowing reshoots or budgetary concerns due to the Fox Disney merger. Hercule Poirot’s scar is also a little unbelievable as it is shown to be hidden by his mustache even though it’s large enough to reach his cheek. The story is also not as engaging as Murder on the Orient Express since you pretty much know who the killer is from the moment they step on screen. It’s not hidden very well and the clues are basically spoon-fed to the audience. They try and shift the blame to others, but it only makes them potentially an accomplice. Also, the motives of the killer are a bit confusing because what they wanted was offered to them at the beginning of the film.

If you enjoy a good murder mystery with an ensemble cast then this is the film for you. I give Death on the Nile a Decent 7/10. Unlike Murder on the Orient Express, this film does not set up an immediate sequel, but it would be great to have more of Hercule Poirot’s adventures adapted for the big screen. Maybe even a limited series on Disney+.

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