Review of 'Death on the Nile'

death_on_the_nile.jpg Following on from Kenneth Branagh's first adaption of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot story “Murder on the Orient Express” in 2017, “Death on the Nile” features another ensemble cast including Branagh reprising his role as the titular detective with the outlandish moustache.

In a club the famous detective is captivated by jazz singer Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo) but is distracted by a drama unfolding in the room. Jacqueline “Jackie” de Bellefort (Emma Mackey) introduces her fiancé Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) to heiress Linnet Ridgeway (the amazing Gal Gadot) to offer him employment. Simon is immediately hired and is obviously attracted to Linnet causing Jackie great discomfort. Six weeks later the newly married Simon and Linnet are introduced to Poirot by his friend, Bouc (Tom Bateman). The couple are pursued by a jilted Jackie so board a cruise on the S.S. Karnak joined by several eclectic friends and Salome. Poirot joins the cruise as well having been asked by the couple to protect them from Jackie. This is all for nothing as Jackie finds a way aboard the ship followed shortly by the first murder…

If all of this seems quite contrived, it most certainly is, but that is the nature of the source material as the whole game is to figure out what exactly is going on and which of the assortment of characters could possibly have done it. Unfortunately here the heavy-handed special effects, flat and uninspired acting, lack of any appealing character and some absolutely atrocious accents all mean it is a bit of a struggle to really care too much about any of it. Not that it is not interesting, but with all of these negatives and the large number of characters requiring a good amount of attention to keep track of (I am not good with names) meant I just gave up and found my mind wandering, pondering such things as why Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, two famous British comedians (“French and Saunders”), were so horribly miscast as two horribly serious and uninteresting characters. There are some other big names in the cast such as Annette Bening and, another British comedian, Russell Brand but with flat, boring, performances it just seems like everyone is just going through the motions and relying on the big names in the ensemble to carry the picture. They don't. For goodness sake, someone just smile, crack a (funny) joke, or act like a real person…perhaps this film just takes itself WAY too seriously and the cast's performances are simply due to this constraint?

Yes, the story is good, the plot twists moderately interesting and the final reveal a bit surprising but this is not enough to save this one. It does not help that Branagh has never really played a convincing Poirot for me with his horrible accent and obvious forced contortions - visual and internal - to put himself in the character. It is just not right. Just like the whole film.

Rating: “Not great, but not the worse”

Review Date: 2022-12-10

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Studio: 20th Century Studios

Year: 2022

Length: 127 minutes

Genre: Melodrama

Other reviewed films by Kenneth Branagh: