In 2017, Kenneth Branagh directed and starred in an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel Murder on the Orient Express. He’s back, and this time he’s adapting another Agatha Christie novel – Death on the Nile.
Based on the 1937 novel of the same name, the story follows newlyweds Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) and Linnet’s (Gal Gadot) wedding party aboard the steamer S. S Karnak – a boat traveling down the Nile River in Egypt. World-renowned detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is aboard the ship as a guest of the newlyweds.
When one of the passengers is found dead (people seem to always die when Poirot is around), Poirot begins investigating the murder and deduces that someone on the boat is the killer. Could it be Linus (Russell Brand), Linnet’s former fiancé? Could it be Louise (Rose Leslie), Linnet’s lady’s maid? Or could it be Rosalie (Letitia Wright), Linnet’s old classmate? What Poirtot does know…everyone is a suspect.
Death on the Nile isn’t the intriguing mystery Murder on the Orient Express was. It’s fairly easy, as early as the 2nd act, to figure out who the killer is. Although the film doesn’t hide its hands very well, the journey to the big reveal is a fun ride.
As a director, Branagh does a fantastic job making the audience feel like they’re trapped on the boat with Poirot and the other guest. It feels like you’re in the room combing through clues and watching the mystery unfold. As an actor, Branagh is even better as Poirot. His depiction of Poirot is so hilariously good, it’s crazy to imagine someone else playing that role. His Poirot adds as much needed humor to a film draped in tension.
The rest of the cast is great. Each supporting actor knows what movie their in and embody the noir style films their characters were written in – the best performance comes from Sophie Okenedo as Salome – a blues singer. Her performances are great along with her very flirty interactions with Poirot.
The film doesn’t do a good job showing Poirot as a master sleuth the way the previous film did. He seems to stumble upon everything that happens on the boat. There’s some calculation he does in a few big moments, but he spends most of the film interviewing people and quietly coming to his own conclusions.
Death on the Nile may not be the murder mystery fans hoped for but it’s an entertaining trip down the Nile with some interesting characters with a fun murder mystery sprinkled in.