death on the nile review

Death on the Nile Review: An Enjoyable Whodunit

Agatha Christie’s 1937 detective novel is being brought to the big screen. Death on the Nile is a mystery thriller directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, who plays the world-renowned private detective with a legendary mustache, Hercule Poirot. This film is a sequel to the 2017 Christie adaptation, Murder on the Orient Express. This time around, Poirot finds himself on the S.S. Karnak traveling through the Nile when suddenly, a passenger is killed, and he must use his skills to determine which passenger on the boat is the killer before they strike again.

This film was initially slated for release in December 2019, but it was pushed back repeatedly due to the sexual assault allegations against star Armie Hammer and then the pandemic. So we are finally getting the movie on its sixth release date. Fortunately, the film delivered on the whodunit thrills with its (somewhat controversial) cast giving solid performances led by Branagh doing adequate work both in front of and behind the camera.

In recent years, the whodunit genre has been explored in cinema through films such as Knives Out and, most recently, Scream. This is a genre that Christie pioneered through her famous crime novels, and Branagh once again does a fine job of adapting the book into live-action. The film has its issues with pacing, but there is enough fun to make the movie work. The film begins with a black-and-white war flashback that offers more perspective on Poirot’s backstory despite never really tying into the main storyline. We then have a phenomenally crafted dance sequence with Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey) and Simon Doyle (Hammer). Jacqueline’s friend, Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot), arrives and dances with Simon. Years later, Jacqueline and Simon have split, while Linnet and Simon have become a newlywed couple.

The first hour of this movie is methodical in its pacing, taking its time to set up the jealousies and conflict between the characters. Parts of the first hour are engaging; other parts, less so. As our characters board the S.S. Karnak and Jacqueline arrives to see her former friend and former lover as a couple, the film gets more interesting, as their dynamic is compelling. About halfway through the film, the murder takes place and Poirot is finally sent into action. The second half offers the murder mystery we have been waiting for, but the setup to get there could have been better.

As we explore all the characters on the boat, the audience begins their guessing game as they wonder which person is the murderer, piecing things together with Poirot. After all, that is the fun of these movies, isn’t it? Trying to solve a murder mystery before the characters do is enhanced by Poirot’s well-written wry humor, with characters and motives that will keep you guessing. Branagh has improved as a director with phenomenal camerawork and a thrilling, unpredictable ending with revelations and unique shot choices. While Death on the Nile is not as good as the 2017 predecessor and doesn’t reach its full potential, there is fun to be had as we solve a mystery with an enjoyably witty detective.

SCORE: 6/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 6 equates to “Decent.” It fails to reach its full potential and is a run-of-the-mill experience

Disclosure: The critic went to a screening for ComingSoon’s Death on the Nile review. 


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