Murder was just the beginning.
Death on the Nile is a 2022 mystery film directed by Kenneth Branagh, written by Michael Green, produced by Kinberg Genre, Mark Gordon Pictures, Scott Free Productions, and TSG Entertainment, and distributed by 20th Century Studios. It is based on Agatha Christie's 1937 novel, Death on the Nile. The film stars Kenneth Branagh and Gal Gadot. This is the second film in the Hercule Poirot series. It was preceded by Murder on the Orient Express.
"I don't feel safe with any of them." - Linnet Doyle
While on a honeymoon, newlyweds Linnet and Simon Doyle experience some discomfort when Simon's ex-fiancee Jacqueline de Bellefort boards the ship that they are on. Things get even more intense when someone aboard the ship is murdered. Now, detective Hercule Poirot must uncover the truth behind all of this. Everyone has a motive. And everyone has an alibi.
Murder was just the beginning.
My favorite part of the film was easily Detective Hercule Poirot. He is the main character of the movie, and I really enjoyed following him around. Kenneth Branagh maintains this Sherlock Holmes-type composure throughout the film that was extremely impressive, but tosses in a ridiculous amount of charm and likability. The character can be really funny at times, which I found to work very well in the film. It released the tension a little bit. It didn't undercut it, but released it, which is good. If your central character is the best part of your movie, that is a very good thing. And that's the case with Death on the Nile.
The production design is also great. It takes place in Egypt, so we get a bunch of beautiful, sweeping shots of pyramids, tombs, the Sphinx, all that jazz. The Karnak is also a fun cruise ship to be on. The rooms inside of the boat are elegant and unique, which just made the film pop a little bit more for me personally.
Kenneth Branagh just got nominated for his second directing Oscar for Belfast a few days ago...and you can tell that this dude just knows what he's doing. He's made a name for himself by adapting classic English literature, whether it be William Shakespeare or Agatha Christie. He gives you a slick adaptation of Death on the Nile, with great direction for the flashback sequences and some masterful cinematography.
The full final reveal and explanation worked for me. I knew some of the story of Death on the Nile before I went into it. I knew who the villain was. But I didn't really know their plans and motives. And the classic flashback reveals are done very well. It ties everything together nicely with solid payoffs and satisfying explanations.
I also find mystery-thriller movies to just be entertaining. So, naturally, Death on the Nile was entertaining. It's always fun when the audience is involved in a movie, and, in murder mysteries, the audience is trying to guess who the killer is alongside the characters. I just find myself having fun whenever that's the case, so I was easily entertained by Death on the Nile.
The worst thing about this film is easily the first hour. It's sloooooooooooow. I mean, it is so incredibly slow. The murder does not occur until halfway into the movie. For a film called Death on the Nile, it's shocking that the actual titular event doesn't happen until an hour in. And it's not like the first hour builds tension. It tries to explore our characters and how love affects each of them differently while also trying to make everyone super sus, but it just feels messy. Now, once the murder happened, the film got much better. However, the first half was just a slog.
This movie is also a relatively generic murder mystery. Every suspect has a motive. Everyone has a dark secret that makes them seem extra suspicious. Hercule Poirot goes around and interrogates everyone and uncovers new information along the way. It follows all the beats that every single murder mystery before it did. Knives Out was a great murder mystery, because it felt different. Death on the Nile is cliche.
Along those same lines, it doesn't add anything to the genre. Like I said, Knives Out felt different. It felt fresh. It felt new. Death on the Nile doesn't. This story has been told four times: it was a novel. Then it was a 1978 film. Then it was a 2004 episode of TV. Does it really need to be told again? Like, I think three times is more than enough. And this film doesn't add anything to the story of Death on the Nile. It's the same story. The same twists. The same villain with the same plan and same motivation. And that makes this movie feel lame.
The film also has a running theme about love. Usually, themes are a good thing. But this message about love feels bad. It's framing love, which is one of the best things we get to experience as a human being, in a negative light. Love is used as a motive for murder. Love is used as a means to commit suicide. Love is used as a distraction. Every time they bring love up, it's bad. And I hated that.
Finally, the structure of this film was just a mess. The first act feels way too long. As I said before, it just takes too long to get to the murder. The second and third act feel muddled together. The middle of the film is about the interrogations and the building mystery, but it never feels like we transitioned cleanly into the final act and reveal. It makes the movie feel wildly uneven and messy.
Should you go see Death on the Nile?
To be honest, I'd wait until it's on streaming. Even if you are a murder mystery fan, it's not really worth your money in the theater. And you do not need to see it on the big screen. It's somewhat fun to watch with an audience, but you won't lose that much by renting it in when it goes to streaming. And if you don't like murder mysteries, skip this one entirely.
Death on the Nile is an extremely mediocre murder mystery that benefits from a great production and classic story. Despite not adding anything new to the genre or story, it's a fun enough two hours.
I will go Savory. Age range is 11+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
"Death on the Nile"
Fun Factor: 7/10
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Rated PG-13 for moderate violence, frightening themes and images, sexual content, thematic elements
Released on February 11, 2022
2 hours and 7 minutes
Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot
Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle
Tom Bateman as Bouc
Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle
Emma Mackey as Jacqueline de Bellefort
Annette Bening as Euphemia
Letitia Wright as Rosalie Otterbourne
Sophie Okonedo as Salome Otterbourne
Rose Leslie as Louise Bourget
Jennifer Saunders as Marie Van Schuyler
Dawn French as Mrs. Bowers
Ali Fazal as Andrew Katchadourian
Russell Brand as Linus Windlesham