A sequel to the remake of Murder On The Orient Express, a mild hit in 2017, Kenneth Branagh is back directing and starring as Hercule Poirot for what I can only assume is the nice pay day which allowed him to make a more personal project like Belfast.
Death On The Nile is disappointingly sombre, especially when compared to the high energy whodunnit Knives Out (which also has a sequel this year ). There is not much excitement or sense of adventure, perhaps due to a pretty limited cast. With the exception of Branagh and Emma Mackey, none of them really impress, and even Branagh looks a little embarrassed to be there. He certainly seems determined not to have any fun.
The script comes across like an early draft promised several rewrites that never came. People speak like Dan Brown writes, exclaiming who they are and what they are doing out loud at the beginning of every scene. It almost comes across like it is a skit or a farce.
Entirely shot on a London soundstage, the CGI is as depressing as it is cheap looking. Zero days were spent shooting in Egypt and, wow, is that evident. The backgrounds look like a (bad ) video game and I could not stop staring at them.
The release of the film has also been marred by other disasters. Two of the cast made very unfortunate comments on the severity of the pandemic and the usefulness of vaccines, thus barely appearing on the promotion or advertisements, and I believe their screen time was cut. Furthermore, leading man Armie Hammer has been dealing accusations of cannibalism and has been dropped from every project he was working on and by his agent, so this might be your last chance to see him on the big screen.
There are one or two positives, mainly due to the fact it is a great story by the greatest writer in the genre. Some small changes in the story to appeal to a modern audience are welcome. Race and sexuality are touched on but only slightly. Still, it adds another layer to the original text, and I think, to the story as a whole.
I really have a hard time recommending this for a cinema trip but maybe on TV or a streamer on a rainy evening you could throw it on while mainly looking at your phone. That’s about the nicest thing I can say about it anyway.