Plot: What’s it about?
If movies like 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express are up your alley, then I’ve no doubt that Death on the Nile will be enticing. Actor/Director Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as Hercule Poirot who does his best to bring back the vibe of those murder/mysteries that used to be so popular. Gone, however, are Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer. This time around we’ve got Gal Gadot, Tom Bateman and Russell Brand (yes, really). Still Express was a bona fide hit, raking in over $100 million at the box office. And you know what that means…sequel (or at least another installment with similar characters and tone). Death on the Nile movies the locale from a train to, obviously, a boat. Don’t let the confined spaces fool you, though – it works.
We meet Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot), a wealthy woman who betrays her best friends, Jacqueline (Emma Mackey) by stealing and marrying her boyfriend, Simon (Armie Hammer). Linnet and Simon stage a lavish honeymoon. Although she’s not invited Jacqueline keeps hanging around causing Linnet to believe that she might be up to no good. Simon gets the idea to move their party onto a cruise ship to sail around the Nile. As we meet the ensemble cast, everyone is a little shady in their own way or at least has a desire to get their hands on her wealth. We meet Andrew (Ali Fazal), her lawyer who manages her money, her ex-fiancee Linus (Russell Brand, an old friend Rosalie (Leticia Wright) who now acts as her manager and finally Euphemia (Annette Bening) and Marie (Jennifer Saunders), the latter is Linnet’s Communist godmother. With this group, someone’s got to be up to no good, right?
Death on the Nile is a good, but not great, film. The standout is, once again, Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot – the same character he played in Murder on the Orient Express. Branagh seems to relish the opportunity to play this iconic character and it’s evident in every scene he’s in. It also helps that Branagh also directed the film. This was the second film that he directed, the other being Belfast for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. On a technical note, there’s really nothing wrong with the movie. It managed to keep my interest, but having just watched Murder on the Orient Express not too long ago, that was by far the superior film. The cast is large and expansive and if these types of films are your thing then you’ll have a good time. It’s harmless entertainment with some pretty big (and some not so big) names that deliver some above average performances.
Video: How’s it look?
There’s no shortage of eye candy in the film led by, of course, Wonder Woman herself – Gal Gadot. She’s simply stunning. But the cast is loaded with other famous faces as well. What really took me was the film’s Egyptian backdrop. Some of the scenes are wonderfully shot that it makes us forget that the majority of the film takes place indoors. The costume design is second to none as well, some of these actors were really meant to play roles of this nature. Suffice it to say that when looking at this film from a visual perspective – it’s amazing.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Included in this set is a fairly robust and satisfying Dolby Atmos mix. While one might not think it has a lot of chances to spread its legs – think again. I found several very good atmospheric examples that kept my head turning on more than one occasion. The vocals were broad, rich and crisp as well. There are a lot of accents in the film and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was expecting Russell Brand to stand up and start doing one of his acts (he does not, by the way). It’s a pretty immersive soundstage that provided a sound mix I wasn’t really expecting.
Supplements: What are the extras?
We get an array of supplements, though nothing too interesting. It’s a smattering of EPK fluff that checks a few boxes, but offers no real insight into the film or the making of…
- Death on the Nile: Novel to Film – Explore the new vision for Agatha Christie’s classic novel Death on the Nile, and how Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green collaborated with Christie’s estate to bring a new twist to this story of love and murder.
- Agatha Christie: Travel Can Be Murder – The story behind the book connects with Christie’s own love of travel, and especially Egypt and its secrets. Her legacy continues through her family and new generations of filmmakers and actors, all at once contributing to the immortality of her novels.
- Design on the Nile – The setting, the costumes, the photography, all contribute to the Agatha Christie touch. We take a fun tour of this “ship of suspects” and learn details about the overall look and design of everything from the characters to the environment.
- Branagh/Poirot – Kenneth Branagh is a one-of-a-kind artist who can switch hats with exceptional skill, playing Poirot one moment and directing the next. This piece pays tribute to Branagh’s ability to stay connected to his cast and creative team through it all.
- Deleted Scenes – Kenne
- The Market
- Poirot’s Cabin
- Rosalie and Bouc Outside Temple
- Windlesham Jogging
- Poirot Discusses Case
- Poirot and Bouc Approach Jackie
- Confronting Bouc and the Otterbournes
- Poirot Orders Books
The Bottom Line
Death on the Nile looks great, effectively using Egypt as a luxurious backdrop for all the seedy events that take place on the ship. But with a murder/mystery we’re supposed to be on the edge of our seats. With this – we’re not. Even Branagh’s performance as Poirot can’t save the script and the two dimensional characters. The disc does, to its credit, look and sound good though.