Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Armie Hammer is in this movie, he’s a major part of the film, and yes, he did send text messages about eating someone. Outside of that, you’ve got some other eccentrics in the cast, but their performances aren’t nearly as distracting as thinking about Hammer. Death on the Nile is the follow-up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express. It’s an Agatha Christie novel turned into a film. We’ve seen this in the past with the adaptation of Death on the Nile in 1978. This time around the story is slightly different, and we get a look at how the most famous detective this side of Sherlock Holmes came to be.
The film stars Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot, Tom Bateman as Bouc, Annette Bening as Euphemia Bouc, Russell Brand as Windlesham, Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle, Letitia Wright as Rosalie, Sophie Okonedo as Salome, Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway, Rose Leslie as Louise Bourget, Ali Fazal as Katchadourian, Emma Mackey as Jacqueline de Bellefort, Jennifer Saunders as Marie Van Schuyler, and Dawn French as Mrs. Bowers. That large and diverse cast provides the backdrop for the entire film. At the center of it all is Linnet Ridgeway.
The Setup For Death on the Nile
Ridgeway’s finances are front and center of Death on the Nile. Everything revolves around the money she has, who wants it, who gets what, and the surrounding circumstances. The film starts off with a frame around how Poirot became Poirot. It’s the origin story of his mustache and disposition. Then we get a scene of Ridgeway and Bellefort (Mackey) talking about Jacqueline’s new beau, Simon Doyle. Ridgeway gives Doyle a job, and then Jacqueline tells him to dance with Linnet. From there, it goes downhill and they go to the present day of the story, the wedding of Simon Doyle and Linnet Ridgeway.
The story really starts when Poirot is introduced to the entire wedding party. Simon and Linnet draw him in to help investigate Jacqueline and keep Linnet safe from her. Linnet gets murdered, and the story kicks off from there.
Overt Horniness Distracts From The First Act
If you know and love Christie, you’ll be right at home with this movie. That being said, there are some strange sequences and little moments that distract a bit from the proceedings. One is the overt horniness on display with Simon Doyle and Linnet Ridgeway. They’re newlyweds and trying to make Jacqueline jealous, yes, but the horny levels here are off the charts. Other than that, the sound design in the film is a bit off. In some scenes, it’s very hard to hear what the characters are saying, or they’re drowned out by other noises and echoes.
It’s a small nitpick, but the film gives the most fantastical and outrageous origin story that I’ve ever seen for a mustache. The opening frame of the film is devoted to how Poirot got his famous mustache. I’m being facetious, but this opening feels and looks like a completely different movie.
Do You Need To See Murder on the Orient Express Before This?
The only thread that continues beside the work of Hercule Poirot from Murder on the Orient Express is Bouc. The character, played by Tom Bateman is a friend of Poirot’s from their time in that film. You don’t need to see that film to understand or enjoy Death on the Nile. It’s easy to pick up on the plot and their relationship from what’s shown in this film.
The Cast Is The Reason To Watch Death on the Nile
For such a large cast, all the performances stick out in one way or another. Each character juggles how they’re motivated by Linnet’s money; at any point, the audience could and should think that they committed the murder. It’s only once Poirot unravels the thread at the end of the film that you get a clear picture of how and why the crime was perpetrated. In between that, there are some hellraising performances here; including Branagh’s Poirot, Annette Bening as Bouc’s mother Euphemia, Emma Mackey as Jacqueline, and Sophie Okonedo as the singer, Salome. These characters have the best scenes with Poirot in the film, including seeing the normally mild-mannered detective absolutely flustered when talking to Salome.
They have some great interactions, but some of the best scenes are the more tender sequences where you see Poirot for who he is. Branagh carries the movie in a way that’s titanic but he gives plenty for the other actors to work with. In particular, when Poirot is talking to Jacqueline about love loss.
It’s a testament to the script that Michael Green wrote, that all these characters’ relationships, motivations, and performances blend together so seamlessly. Each Poirot interview gives the audience a bit more to know about the entire story, but not too much to give anything too crucial away. Once it’s revealed, however, it all makes sense. The explanation at the end is fluid and doesn’t leave any stone unturned.
Death on the Nile Is Well Worth A Watch
Death on the Nile is an adaptation of Agatha Christie. Her work in the “whodunnit” mystery genre stands the test of time. Humanity loves a good mystery, and they especially love unraveling that mystery. The foundation that this movie is built upon is the biggest strength of the film. Some smaller things are changed, but it’s the work of Christie, so long ago, that gives this movie its legs to stand on.
Going into the movie, it was a question about whether Armie Hammer, COVID-19, delays, and other circumstances would sink this film. Hopefully, those things don’t, because Death on the Nile is an excellent murder mystery that has a few flaws, but not enough to take the film down. The performances and the script carry the film to an exciting and poignant conclusion. For fans of Christie adaptations, this is among the best.
Death on the Nile releases in theaters on February 11th, 2022.
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