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Death on the Nile Review: The Real Mystery Is “Who Asked For This Sequel?”

Death on the Nile
Death on the Nile cover

Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) belongs to a small and distinguished group. A group of fictional, literary characters that thrive under the pressures and stresses of an unsolvable crime. They are determined to beat the odds, hold the perpetrator accountable and save the day. The world’s greatest detectives. Among them are, of course, Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and even Batman. What makes these characters, and their stories, so engaging and memorable are the mysteries at their core. A Detective is only as good as their case. Unfortunately, the mystery at the center of Death on the Nile is a weak one that will be solved by couch potatoes and amateur sleuths with ease.

Death on the Nile
Kenneth Branagh as Detective Poirot

Death on the Nile is the second film in the series and a direct follow up to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express. Fans of Agatha Christie are no doubt familiar with Detective Poirot and his keen ability to find clues in the unlikeliest of places. Death on the Nile keeps the premise essentially the same as its predecessor, while moving the setting from a train to a yacht. When a murder occurs during a relaxing vacation float down Egypt’s Nile river, everybody on board is a suspect and only Poirot can solve the mystery… Well, Poirot and everybody in the audience. This one really isn’t that tricky, and that’s one of the film’s biggest flaws.

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The ensemble cast are giving it their all, and for the most part, succeeding. Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as Detective Poirot and delivers the thick, muddled accent we love to mimic. Spoken through his plush and styled mustache, Poirot’s French accent is a defining character trait. Like Knives Out Detective Blanc (Daniel Craig). Joining the cast are Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name) as love struck newly weds celebrating their honeymoon. Hammer’s inclusion in the cast may come as a surprise to many. The actor has been embroiled in controversy following the release of some questionable private messages. I won’t delve into them here, but trust me when I say, it was pretty shocking stuff.

Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway
Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway

Death on the Nile crumbles on a fundamental level, and seems to lack a working knowledge of the basics. Lighting, editing and CGI are the worst offenders. At times, the film feels like a cheaply thrown together animated film. Computer generated images of crocodiles, pyramids and flowing water lack any sense of realism and clash against the live action actors sharing the screen. The editing is a confusing jumble of quick cuts and close ups. Every moment of action or urgency devolves into a messy mashup of senseless and illogical edits.

Despite the many flaws and missteps on display throughout its run, Death on the Nile succeeds in crafting an entertaining and engaging tale. Branagh’s delivery of lines and full commitment to the character of Poirot help to elevate the film and engage the audience. It’s certainly a sequel that nobody asked for, and few expected; however, there is a level of pleasure that comes from watching a master detective at work. And Poirot delivers that much, at least. 6/10

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Written by Joshua Ryan

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the FandomWire review based Podcast, Cinema Stubs.

Twitter: @MrMovieGuy86 Instagram: @MrMovieGuy86