"...a fatally flawed mystery."
DEATH ON THE NILE (2022)
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"While on vacation on the Nile, Hercule Poirot must investigate the murder of a young heiress."
OUR [TO THE POINT] REVIEW:
Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express was a visually stunning murder mystery with a slow build and a wasted finale, however it still left an imprint as I still think of it from time to time nearly five years later. This I don’t think will be the case with the belated sequel, Death on the Nile.
After delays due to COVID-19 and controversial allegations with several of the cast, Death on the Nile has finally decided to see the light of day exclusively in cinemas. A good whodunit is one of the most satisfying experiences you can have at the cinema or even in front of your television, deciphering the mystery is one of the more thrilling actions that the audience themselves can dive in on. It’s another reason why films like Scream are so wildly entertaining, it’s the thrill of figuring out who the killer is as the horror film takes place around the mystery.
In Death on the Nile the whodunit continues forward in a classic light that reflects the best of classic cinema along with the worst of modern. Littered with backdrops and in-your-face digital effects that screamed unfinished, the film couldn’t help but remove any sense of seduction into the story with these unwarranted digital flaws. I had no way to check my timing, but the film felt as though it took nearly an hour or more of the 2 hour, 7 minute runtime to have the mystery actually begin. The first act is almost entirely unappealing and gives barely a reason to care for any of the contestants on “Who wants to be a murderer?!”.
Opinions on the personal life of the actors aside, the cast give a mixed effort in their performances. While actors like Tom Bateman, Russell Brand, Emma Mackey and Kenneth Branagh are giving fantastic performances, actors such as Gal Gadot, Annette Bening, Letitia Wright are giving over dramatic takes that make for some of the more eye-roll inducing scenes in the film – not to mention the entirely lackluster and forgettable performance from Armie Hammer’s Simon Doyle. Out of the entirety of the cast however Gadot stands out the most, entirely out of her element – showcasing that outside an action set piece she can’t quite deliver a kinetic performance.
Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot as portrayed by director Kenneth Branagh is undeniably charming yet arrogant – similar to the likes of Conan Arthur Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Beyond their sublime senses, arrogant nature and reasonings, Poirot and Holmes are hardly comparable. However the biggest issue with Branagh’s Poirot is that due to how softly he speaks and how thick his French/Flemish accent is portrayed you’d need subtitles in order to ease the process of understanding everything that comes forth from the great detective.
Death on the Nile is a fatally flawed mystery – delivering one of the least successful build ups to a case that possessed so much talent and such an unexpected conclusion. If the first half of the film was as successful as the latter – Death on the Nile would have easily been an enjoyable mystery from beginning to end. As Death on the Nile sits however it’s a mystery better left unsolved than to endure the slog of a first act.