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Review: 'Death On The Nile' (2022) Dir. Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, Tom Bateman, Sophie Okonedo, Letitia Wright, Rose Leslie, Russell Brand, Jennifer Saunders and Emma Mackey

 

The delayed sequel to 2017s 'Murder on the Orient Express' sees a fresh new adaptation of the Agatha Christie murder-mystery with an all star cast to bring another who-dunnit to life...


A wealthy heiress, Linnet Ridgeway (Gadot), and her newly married husband Simon Doyle (Hammer) arrive in Egypt for a belated honeymoon with a select group of friends invited along, including the famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh).


The guests include Linnet's old friend Bouc (Bateman) and his mother Euphemia (Bening), former classmate Rosalie (Wright) and aunt Salome (Okonedo), Godmother Marie (Saunders) and nurse Mrs Bowers (French), former fiancée Linus (Brand) and cousin Andrew (Fazal).


But it is not long before tragedy strikes the already paranoid couple and there is a murder on the honeymoon cruise. Simon's former fiancée Jackie (Mackey) is prime suspect, and it's down to Poirot to find the killer among the guests before they strike again...

It's clear from the outset, and looking back at the equally star-studded Murder on the Orient Express, that director and star Kenneth Branagh holds the source material in high regard. Based on the 1937 thriller from Agatha Christie, this adaptation has already been done across the big and small screen, but for a new generation who don't know the story and even those who do, it's a comfortable pair of Sunday afternoon slippers. A murder mystery the likes we've seen many times before, but still comes over with respect and passion for the source material that makes it a pleasing and engaging crime thriller.


The cast are used well, and while some back-players are there for window dressing, such as posh toff Russell Brand and troubled cousin Ali Fazal, it's the main roster of suspects you know are the ones to watch out for. Brit comics Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French scale back the laughs for some drama as a wealthy widow and nurse. Annette Bening is an over-protective mother. Letitia Wright is a scorned lover. Armie Hammer is a charmer of ladies hearts. Rose Leslie is the quiet maid. It's a classic line-up where everyone is a suspect, but yet they all equally have enough chips on their shoulders and hidden secrets to keep unaware viewers guessing with the bodies piling up, all playing their roles well, at times more so than the 2017 line-up.

The characters this time feel a little more human, and we have more chance to see some of their interactions and motives on and around the Nile cruise, not just reduced to talking backwards and forwards on a train carriage.

The saving grace in this story is our Belgian sleuth - Hercule Poirot himself. Brought to life by Branagh once more, and this time with a gritty and bold origin sequence set in the trenches or WW1 that sheds light on that famous moustache. Poirot this time is a little softer around the edges, thanks to Branagh's flawless portrayal. His OCD is present for slight comedic effect, but never played to be silly. The quirky mannerisms and knowledge of culture are charming, leading to some nice tender moments that help flesh our his character from where we left him last time. For this reason, the story feels a lot more lighter thanks to his more humane side coming out.

The story takes it's time to get to the actual death on the Nile. A good hour in before the real murder mystery begins. But that's not a bad thing, because for the first hour we see some of the sights of a sun-drenched Egypt and learn about the suspects and our doomed couple, Hammer and a fragile Gal Gadot. While the visual effects that bring Egypt to life are not the best, and sadly detract from the potential scale of such a beautiful location, it is at least nice to look at and lose yourself in the 1930s splendour of costumes and music.


Branagh refrains from any frills or gimmicks in telling the story, and isn't afraid to touch upon the grizzly side to murder without being gratuitous. We are in good company throughout, and spending time on the cruise ship never drags nor feels claustrophobic because there's always something to look at or hear.


It may be a little devoid of surprise or high-octane thrills, but from the source material itself this is faithfully done and doesn't try to reinvent the wheel of a classic murder mystery.

Standing strong alongside 'Murder On The Orient Express', Branagh steals the show as Hercule Poirot, delivering an easy watching murder mystery in a sun-drenched new adaptation, with a great supporting cast alongside him.





'Death On The Nile' is a co-production between Kinberg Genre, Mark Gordon Pictures, Scott Free Productions and TSG Entertainment


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