Hercule Poirot attempts to solve the murder
of a heiress onboard a luxury ship on the Nile.
Death on the Nile (2022)
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Written by Michael Green
Starring Kenneth Branagh, Annette Bening, Armie Hammer,
Gal Gadot, Russell Brand, Letitia Wright, Sophie Okonedo,
Emma Mackey, Tom Bateman, Rose Leslie, Jennifer Saunders,
Dawn French, Ali Fazal
Sequel to 2017's Murder on the Orient Express
Remake of 1978's Death on the Nile
Based on the novel by Agatha Christie
Death on the Nile is another one of those films I feel I've been waiting a lifetime to see. Kenneth Branagh's first Poirot adventure, Murder on the Orient Express, came out in 2017, and due to production delays, a global pandemic, Armie Hammer's sexual assault allegations, Letitia Wright's anti-vax controversy, and a general lack of interest, it took quite a long time for the sequel to be released. If you look at all the roadblocks lined up like that, it does seem like the world was completely against this movie. But here we are. It's out in the world for good, and probably gonna tank at the box office. Plus, it's not as good as the first film and suffers from a serious pacing problem.
Poirot (Branagh) is on vacation in Egypt, where he encounters his old friend Bouc (Bateman), who invites him to the wedding of wealthy heiress Linnet Ridgeway (Gadot) and her handsome beau Simon Doyle (Hammer, who is now a complete distraction). While onboard the luxury ship Karnak, a murder most foul occurs, and Poirot is on the case. If you're paying any attention at all, you know who the killer is almost immediately. It's painfully obvious, and takes the fun out of the murder mystery. Granted, I haven't read Christie's novel or seen the original 1978 film. Hopefully, it's not as obvious from the start. The performances are decent, but most of the characters fade into the background, with the focus aimed at only a select few. I did appreciate the exploration into Poirot's past, even if it was unnecessary to give his mustache a backstory.
Overall, I think Orient Express was better. Maybe it was the five year wait, or the now controversial stars, or something else, but this feels like a relic of a time we've all moved on from. Is it a bad movie? Not really, but it's forgettable and treats the audience like we're stupid. It could've been better, and if Branagh gets to make a third film, I hope the writing is a bit better.
Growing up, I was much more aware of Agatha Christie and her character, Hercule Poirot, probably more than most kids my age. My mom was a huge fan of the long-running British show and I inevitably got stuck watching some of the episodes. This show, I should point out, I found incredibly boring and one of the worst detective shows I’ve seen. As I got older, the character would leave my mind. Until Kenneth Branagh announced he would be bringing the character to the big screen with an adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express. Now, I figured now that I’m older and more seasoned with film, I would approach this with an open mind. Upon seeing the film, it was apparent my feelings had remained unchanged. Now, with this new installment out, would this finally be the one to get me on board? Short answer, definitely not.
Death on the Nile is a two-hour long murder mystery film which doesn’t get to the murder or the mystery until well over an hour in. If you’re wondering what happens during the initial hour, I’ll tell. It’s chockful of character development for some of the most boring and forgettable characters I’ve witnessed in a murder mystery. Not a single person jumped out to me as a possible suspect due to how detached I felt from these people. To the actors’ credits, their performances aren’t at fault. If anything, the performances are the one thing I’ll say is a huge positive here. It’s the writing which really doesn’t do much to get me invested in any of these characters. Now, once we finally get to the central premise of the film, it moves through it rather quickly. This was literally the least amount of tension and suspense I’ve felt in this type of film. Mainly thanks to the aggressive need to quickly jump from one scene to the next without a moment let the audience have fun with the mystery. Finally, and this is a quick nitpick, the need for constant shots of CGI backgrounds starts to wear thin.
As it stands, my feelings remain unchanged. This is another well-acted but hollow feeling film due to poor characters, taking way too long to get the main plot going, and then quickly rushing through it once it does. I have tried Agatha Christie and her creation numerous times. After this, I’m done. No more chances.