Kenneth Branagh stars and directs in another interpretation of an Agatha Christie classic. “Death on the Nile” sees world renowned detective Hercules Poirot joining a honeymoon party where suspicions are high and murder lies in the air.
With a star-studded cast including Gal Gadot, Russell Brand and Armie Hammer, “Death on the Nile” has enough characters to entertain and intrigue audiences. Not the same can be said about some individual performances, however. While Hammer delivers a convincing performance throughout the movie, Gadot once again struggles to get through her lines. Her classic deadpan delivery is not improved in this movie, where almost every line delivered is laughable.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Branagh’s Poirot is a treat for audiences. Not only is he the most entertaining character on screen, but it is clear that Branagh loves the character he is playing. Poirot’s presence on screen is only aided by Tom Bateman’s Bouc. Bateman plays a classic sidekick that only elevates the charm and humor of the character.
While the movie’s characters offer enough to keep audiences interested, the same cannot be said for other aspects of the movie. The movie struggles to keep its pace together. The first half of the movie drags and appears to stumble its way from scene to scene, trying to string together any sort of storyline. In contrast, the second half feels more comfortable with itself, properly developing the mystery in an organic and compelling way. The movie could have greatly benefited from being more unified in tone and pace.
Production value also suffers from inconsistencies. Set design swings from breathtaking to amateurishly simple. This is not made better by the unconvincing visual effects. It is quite obvious that actors were standing in front of green screens for some scenes, where state of the art computer generated visuals fail to sell audiences on fantastical locations.
The movie places a great amount of focus on style. This means that action scenes are beautifully directed and costumes are on point. Unfortunately, it also means that, at times, too much attention is presented on trying to make scenes look good and have an era appropriate feel that the more important elements of storytelling get lost in the midst. Certain scenes of “Death on the Nile” overstay their welcome, making audiences wonder what the true goal of the movie is. Other scenes come across as goofy and completely laughable.
Thematically, the movie deals, on the most part, with love and how far someone can go in the name of love. Avoiding exploring this theme in any clever way, the movie reminds audiences of its thematic elements with on the nose lines from characters that end up making the movie too predictable and not very thought-provoking. This makes the conflict feel like cheap melodrama that is hard to relate to.
“Death on the Nile” has many flaws where it also has many strengths. When it comes to acting and on screen characters, some rise to the top and others sink to the bottom. If audiences can get past Gadot’s dreadful delivery, they will find much entertainment and enjoyment out of Branagh’s Poirot, who shines and steals every scene he is in. While conflict seems unrealistic and overdramatic at times, the mystery is intriguing enough to retain the audiences’ attention. In a movie with vast highs and lows, it is no surprise that pace and tone are jeopardized. Nonetheless, with its many flaws, “Death on the Nile” remains entertaining and worth the watch, even if the movie leaves audiences hungering for better made movies in the genre.