"Death on the Nile" stars Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, and Letitia Wright. Released on February 11, 2022, the film has Hercule Poirot solving a murder mystery in Egypt.
The film was directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also directed films such as "In the Bleak Midwinter", "The Magic Flute", "Thor", and "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit". It is a sequel to the 2017 mystery film "Murder on the Orient Express", also directed by Branagh. It is also the third screen adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1937 novel of the same name. As if a murder mystery on the train wasn't thrilling enough. Five years ago, Kenneth Branagh revived Agatha Christie's iconic detective for a new generation of audiences. No, I'm not talking about Sherlock Holmes nor Basil of Baker Street from "The Great Mouse Detective". I'm referring to Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective who, you guessed it, solves murder mysteries. Branagh's adaptation of "Murder on the Orient Express" has brought back interest in the character for longtime fans and introduced the detective to recent newcomers. Not only that, but it also delivered a stylish and intriguing mystery thriller filled with an all-star cast and impressive set designs. This film sees the return of Poirot as he seeks to solve another mystery in a different location. This time, it's on a luxurious boat in Egypt. Let's hope he doesn't get seasick during this little venture. I managed to review the recent adaptation of "Murder on the Orient Express" a few years ago, which you can find on my "2017 Reviews" page. Long story short: it wasn't something for me to write home about, but it was a decent old-fashioned mystery thriller that properly introduced me to the character. Because of that, I figured I would give this long-awaited sequel a shot this weekend. So, was it another mystery that's worth solving, or is it something that should be murdered on the spot? Let's find out.
The story centers on Hercule Poirot (Branagh), a world-renowned detective and former policeman. Along with his friend Bouc (Bateman), Hercule attends a celebration on the S. S. Karnak hosted by Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (Gadot) and her husband Simone Doyle (Hammer). Their peaceful vacation is suddenly destroyed when one of the passengers is murdered. With time running short, Hercule must use his detective skills again to search for the killer responsible for the crime before they strike again. The film's plot plays out the same way as "Murder on the Orient Express". Poirot boards a form of transportation, someone gets killed during the trip, and he sets out to solve the mystery with the passengers being the main suspects. It's a formula that's as timeless and appealing as an Egyptian relic. For a film like this, it's enough to please longtime fans of the genre and Agatha Christie's works. But is it enough to satisfy regular moviegoers as well? For the most part, yes. While it delivered some decent twists, there's nothing too groundbreaking or extraordinary in its plot that'll change the cinematic world of the murder-mystery genre. It's just an old-fashioned and suitably gorgeous whodunit that hearkens back to the old days of mystery movies and explores the elusiveness of love. It is also a film that relies heavily on the dialogue-driven elements of the genre than the action-packed ones, similar to "Murder on the Orient Express". So unless you happen to like this type of direction, there's a slight chance that you'll feel less enthusiastic during the cruise, especially when it comes to the first half's inconsistent pacing. I didn't mind it as long as it has a few shining moments to keep me engaged, which it does. One of those moments that came to mind was the cast. Not only did Kenneth Branagh return to helm the follow-up, but he also reprised his role as the iconic mustached detective. He did a splendid job portraying the character in "Murder on the Orient Express", and the same can be said for his performance here. The actor/filmmaker represented a detective who's as intriguing as the mystery itself, mainly due to the film's exploration of his past. While it didn't do much to express its genuine emotion fully, Branagh still managed to channel Poirot's nuance and personality to deliver a worthy iteration of the character. My only minor issue with his performance is that some of his dialogue can be difficult to understand due to his accent. Luckily, it isn't bothersome enough to derail something that requires people to pay attention to the details. The rest of the actors also delivered some respectable performances, including Gal Gadot as Linnet and Tom Bateman as Bouc. Russell Brand also did pretty well regarding his against-type performance as Linus Windlesham, a doctor and Linnet's former fiancé. Like "Murder on the Orient Express", "Death on the Nile" benefitted from its set designs amid its attention-grabbing mystery. It's easy to tell that Branagh is fascinated with bringing Agatha Christie's world filled with deception, love, and murder to life. You have backdrops that resemble the city of London and the ever-lasting Nile from the 1930s. There's also a World War I flashback at the beginning of the film that delivered plenty of authenticity in its setting and black-and-white cinematography. Whether the story is good or not, there's no denying that the director has a splendid habit of showcasing beautiful sceneries.
Overall, "Death on the Nile" may not do much to stand out against the previous adaptations, but it is another diverting mystery that's worth solving. Despite its pacing issues and familiarity, the film sees Kenneth Branagh in top form once more as an actor and a filmmaker. The actors were respectable in their roles, the set designs were gorgeous to a fault, and Branagh's narrative style had a proper mixture of old-fashion and majesty. If you enjoyed some of Christie's works involving Poirot and Branagh's adaptation of "Murder on the Orient Express", then this is one murderous cruise you don't want to miss.