Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Tom Bateman as Bouc
Annette Bening as Euphemia
Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot
Russell Brand as Linus Windlesham
Ali Fazal as Andrew Katchadourian
Dawn French as Mrs. Bowers
Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle
Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle
Rose Leslie as Louise Bourget
Emma Mackey as Jacqueline “Jackie” de Bellefort
Sophie Okonedo as Salome Otterbourne
Jennifer Saunders as Marie Van Schuyler
Letitia Wright as Rosalie Otterbourne
Director: 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.
I will admit myself as someone who liked Kenneth Branagh’s take on Murder on the Orient Express, even if it had its issues. So I was on board for Branagh’s next adaptation of a Hercule Poirot story with Death on the Nile. I didn’t really know what to expect going in, I just knew of the cast and premise. However it just kept being delayed for a number of years, and I began to lose interest. It finally released and again it opened to mixed reactions and again I enjoyed it, even with its issues.
Death on the Nile isn’t a great detective mystery film, but its pretty good for what it was. For me, the clearest issue was that the death at the centre of the mystery doesn’t happen till the halfway point, whereas in Murder on the Orient Express it happened by the end of the first act. While Death on the Nile gives us a considerable amount of time with the characters before the murder happens especially in contrast to the last movie, it’s a bit too much. There’s a long boat ride before it reaches that one death, and I couldn’t help but feel rather bored. When that death does finally happen, that’s where Death on the Nile really picks up as our lead detective tries to unravel the mystery. I was locked in and interested to see the twists and turns. However, I will say that the climax did feel a bit rushed. Also as someone who hadn’t read the book, with the way its presented in the movie, the twist was very easy to predict. One thing you’ll probably notice when watching the movie is that it might be taking itself a little too seriously. The previous movie also took itself seriously but there was lot more fun to be had with it. Here, it’s pretty dark from beginning to end and I’m not sure it always works, even if there’s little bits of humour. Even the ending was a bit of a downer. There are certainly some strange choices but I kind of admire them in a way. For example, there is an actual origin story for Poirot’s moustache in the prologue that’s played deadly seriously and honestly that could be a litmus test for whether the movie works for you or not. Also, like Orient Express (2017), there’s definitely a lot of cheesy, campy and over the top elements but I enjoyed those, if anything I wished it leaned into those elements more here.
On the whole the cast is pretty good, even if they aren’t as strong as the cast from Murder on the Orient Express. Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as detective Hercule Poirot to perfection, and has great chemistry with the whole cast. Again, he plays the character in a humorous and entertaining way but we also get to see more of his dramatic side here, and Branagh plays it well. The cast of murder suspects are fairly generic here, but the acting was pretty good for the most part. Tom Bateman’s Bouc is the only cast member from the last movie to return outside of Branagh, and he gets even more to do more here. A lot of the cast members were good, with the highlights being Annette Bening, Emma Mackey and Sophie Okonedo. Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer were the worst performers, but they weren’t enough to take me out of the movie entirely.
I liked Kenneth Branagh’s direction of the previous Poirot movie and the same is true with Nile. The cinematography is dazzling and impressive, every shot is colourful and pristine, especially with the scenes on the Nile and on real location. However the CGI is very noticeable and distracting at times, and there is a lot of CGI. Patrick Doyle also returns to do the score and it is good, matching the vibe and setting of the movie quite well.
As someone who liked Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, I enjoyed his Death on the Nile almost as much. It has a decent cast with an intriguing murder mystery, and a very flashy style that I enjoyed, even if you wouldn’t put it among the best films in its genre. Overall it’s a solid if slightly unremarkable bit of detective fiction. However, I will say that the hour long build up to the central murder really let the movie down quite a bit, but I still enjoyed it for what it was. If you liked Branagh’s last Poirot movie, then I recommend giving his adaptation of Death on the Nile a look.