Rating: 12A Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Emma Mackey, Armie Hammer and Gal Gadot. Directed by Kenneth Branagh Written by Michael Green (Screenplay) and Agatha Christie (Novel) Length: 127mins
In the second of Kenneth Branagh’s Poirot adventures, the famous detective finds himself tagging along on the honeymoon of the extremely wealthy Linnet Ridgeway (Gadot) and her new husband, Simon Doyle (Hammer). Others accompanying the happy couple include Linnet’s godmother, the bride’s former fiancé, a mother and son pairing, and a celebrated jazz singer and her niece as well as Simon’s jealous ex (Mackey), an uninvited but unshakable presence throughout the story…
It’s always tricky to comment on the plot of a movie that is an adaptation from a much loved author, especially one that has been made into film more than once. But to me, this story seems like a bizarre choice. The audience finds itself waiting for a good portion of the story until we are presented with a murder, up until which point our lead character; a detective, is just awkwardly tagging along to a couples honeymoon party. Once he is released to do what he does best the plot becomes a little more interesting, though to me, the whole case is relatively predictable.
While I would love to say that Death on the Nile was excellent, it falls slightly flat. The plot, as previously mentioned, accounts for a good portion of that. But also some of the creative choices throughout. The film is long, much longer than it needed to be and the time was used commenting on unusual aspects, for example, Poirot’s moustache gets its own pre-titles origin story, which is considerably more background detail than most of the other characters are afforded.
Some of the acting, however, was fantastic. British breakout star Emma Mackey was truly brilliant. Surrounded by Hollywood A listers, her scorned, possessive Jacqueline de Bellefort stood up to the ranks of those around her, bringing a deeply emotional, interesting performance. While Mackey is the one I chose to mention by name, as per Branagh’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, the film is filled with outstanding talent. This talent, and of course Branagh’s direction (which has just seen him nominated for an academy award), is the main draw of the movie.
This film was a victim of Covid:19 and was due to release originally in early 2020 which means that audiences were left waiting and wanting to see the picture. I think that this can have a negative affect on it’s audiences – keen fans were left building up hopes for this film that may not have reached such heights had the film released when originally planned. It also suffers due to the controversy around several of it’s top billed cast which perhaps leaves a foul taste as people finally get in to watch the film.
Death on the Nile is ‘fine’. It didn’t blow my mind, I wouldn’t rush to watch it again, but it’s a film that I could see myself re-watching at some point in the future as something to have on in the background. It isn’t as engaging or exciting as Murder on the Orient Express and left me wanting more.