Creating a film adaption of well-known books is always risky. The novels already have a vast worldwide fanbase, especially when the writer is highly renowned. The fans have expectations about what the movie should look like, which elements of the books need to be included, which actors should play the parts, etc.
We’re pretty sure that director/actor/producer Kenneth Branagh (“Tenet“) felt this pressure when taking on “Death on the Nile” from Agatha Christie. While he already has experience with Christie’s work as he adapted “Murder on the Orient Express” in 2017, “Death on the Nile” is another big challenge.
He again steps into the shoes of Hercule Poirot, and he takes a stunning A-list cast with him to Egypt. Will they be able to pull off this adaption and meet the expectations, or will this movie sink to the bottom of the Nile?
If you want to discover the breath taking riches of Egypt, you’re going to have to sit through the quite out-of-tone and slow prologue. Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green (“Blade Runner 2049″) take you to the Great War to show the dark times in Poirot’s life. He’s seriously wounded, and this tragic accident significantly impacts the way he’s experienced love and relationship.
After a bizarre shift, Branagh guides you into a dark but vibrant Jazz club in London, where you meet Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer). The latter casts his fiancé Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey) aside for Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot). Instead of feeling sorry for herself, Jacqueline’s out for revenge. She stalks the newlywed couple during their honeymoon in Egypt.
By this time, we’re almost halfway through the movie, and nothing spectacular or noteworthy happens. However, once Simon, Linnet, their entire entourage (including Poirot) board the dazzling S.S. Karnak as a means to escape from Jacqueline, the film finally get the power it needs.
Jacqueline manages to get herself back on board, and a few hours later, a dead body is discovered on the boat. Did Jacqueline finally get the revenge she wanted, or are these events unrelated? That remains to be seen as well as if Branagh can finally grab the viewers’ attention (something he couldn’t do at the beginning).
If you’ve been following the news surrounding this movie and some of its cast members, then you know that it wasn’t smooth sailing for “Death on the Nile”. We won’t go into whether the accusations are true or not, but those rumours and the pandemic didn’t do this movie any good.
What also isn’t favourable for this film is the prolonged start. Yes, it’s great to see more of Poirot’s background, mainly because we didn’t see much of that during “Orient”, but it could have brought a bit more captivating to screen. Because of this, the first part of the movie feels slushing, and some moments could have easily been left out without ruining the different storylines. Luckily, everything changes after the murder.
The film becomes more intriguing because there’s finally the action, suspense, and entertainment we expected from “Death on the Nile” and also some cast members finally get the chance to shine.
Sophie Okonedo (“Wild Rose“) is perfectly cast as jazz singer Salome Otterbourne as she brings so much charisma and humour to the screen. She might have only a handful of scenes (which is an absolute shame), but she certainly makes them her own.
Letitia Wright (“Black Panther”) as Rosalie Otterbourne is a lovely surprise, as she brings sassiness, cleverness and maturity to this movie. Branagh has an absolute blast while playing Poirot, which results in a rigid and whimsical take on the legendary detective.
In the film, Tom Bateman (“Cold Pursuit“) as Bouc, his right-hand man, puts on a steady and emotional performance. The scenes between Branagh, Okonedo, and Bateman keep this movie alive. Finally, Mackey (“Sex Education”) might be the least famous name in this movie, but she definitely stands her ground. With a stellar and splendid performance, she beautifully brings the heartbroken, vindictive, and dangerous woman to life.
Sadly, we can’t say the same about the rest of the cast. If you look at the names, you would think that the movie would use talent and charisma, mainly because the actors are the selling points of “Death on the Nile”. However, we never get to know each character in depth while the actors lack screentime and the opportunity to reach any great heights.
If there’s one thing that makes “Death on the Nile” a movie worth watching, it’s undoubtedly the stunning cinematography, the elegant but over-the-top costumes and the magical scenery. The exquisite visuals quickly draw you into the luxurious honeymoon, the heat of Egypt and the mysterious vibe of Poirot in no time.
“Death on the Nile” isn’t as slow-paced and unhinged as “Orient”, and the few great performances and splendid cinematography make this movie a good watch. However, it could have been a great film if the start was a bit more interesting and the talent of the cast and crew was used properly!
11th February 2022
THE QUICK SELL
While on vacation on the Nile, Hercule Poirot must investigate the murder of a young heiress.