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Saturday, February 12, 2022

Death on the Nile (2022) Hollywood Movie Best and Honest Review

Death on the Nile (2022) Hollywood Movie Best and Honest Review

Quick Glance

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writers: Michael Green(screenplay by)  Agatha Christie(based upon the novel by)

Stars: Tom Bateman  Annette Bening  Kenneth Branagh

IMBD Rating: 6.6/10

Gener: Crime  Drama  Mystery

Story Line & REview

DEATH ON THE NILE is a brand-new mystery thriller and director and lead actor Kenneth Branagh’s second Agatha Christie adaptation, after his 2017 film MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Upfront I have to admit that I haven’t seen that one but I was curious for the follow-up. 

In general, I’m always up for a good, classic whodunnit. These twisty, slightly dark-humored ensemble pieces, are populated with eccentric characters, including the lead detective. I’m already looking forward to what Rian Johnson is doing with his two KNIVES OUT sequels. 

DEATH ON THE NILE is of course based on the classic 1937 Agatha Christie novel of the same name, in which detective Hercule Poirot, once again played by Kenneth Branagh himself, is trying to solve a case of multiple homicides happening on a Nile steamer. I was intrigued to see this new adaptation because the 1978 version with Peter Ustinov is among my earliest childhood memories when it comes to movies. 

But I haven’t seen it since then and I honestly couldn’t remember anything but that at one point a giant rock is almost smashing someone. Well, at least I thought that’s the only thing I remembered because very shortly into this new movie, I very quickly figured out who the killer is. 

And now I’m conflicted if I knew because I have seen the story some 25 years ago, which might very likely be the case - or if Branagh’s film is a little bit too much opening up a possible scenario very early on. In any case, it wasn’t the most suspenseful and exciting affair for me personally. But I don’t think it would be anyway, even without my pretty strong suspicion. 

Overall, I thought DEATH ON THE NILE is an alright, big production old-school whodunnit with a colorful cast and some neat moments. It’s certainly not a bad movie, but I don’t think it’s great either. Unfortunately, I can’t compare it to Branagh’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, but it just felt a bit cumbersome. 


It takes quite a while until it gets going and it’s lacking a certain esprit and some levity. Not that a film like this has to be funny but I think this one is missing some wit. Several attempts at humor fall kind of flat or are just mildly amusing. Branagh’s Poirot certainly has his moments but the movie overall felt a bit too inert and without much momentum. 

It’s also not that rousing or emotional, even though it strives to build this rather serious emotional core. I was certainly not expecting a movie like this to open up with a World War One prologue, that felt like Branagh’s homage to Sam Mendes’ 1917. 

The big theme here is love and how it affects several key characters. It’s something that’s at least followed through the entire story, but it nonetheless didn’t click for me completely. In regards to that Branagh or Branagh and his screenwriter Michael Green, also made some minor changes to the source material. 

They bring back the character of Bouc, played by Tom Bateman, from the previous film, which adds a slight friendship angle to our lead detective and also gives it more of a franchise feeling, even though I haven’t seen the first one. And with Bouc they also add a love interest for him in the character of Rosalie Otterbourne, played by Letitia Wright. 

The two Otterbourne women were in the original as well, but here they are played by two women of color, Letitia Wright and Sophie Okonedo. This is great but as a possible theme or subject matter in the movie, it’s only touched upon ever so slightly. 

On one hand, I think it’s fine that it’s just rather casual and maybe there isn’t more space in the story without altering it “too much” but on the other hand, with the film being specifically set in 1937 and with that prologue in World War One, it felt a bit anachronistic that it’s not addressed more. 


Especially with all these upper-class people. Class is a minor theme as well, but also just touched on a little bit. I mean there are of course already enough characters to deal with in a whodunnit like this and I guess it’s all just fine.  

Final Thoughts & Score

It’s an okay film, that’s somewhat entertaining and it has its merits or setpieces, for example, a gorgeously beautiful Gal Gadot, who at one point is made up like Cleopatra. But unfortunately, the Egyptian setting is never fully leading to the dense and escapist atmosphere you wish for. 

There are a few nice sets, especially indoors and the costumes are of course also what you expect. But then it also has its fair amount of greenscreen and other digital trickery, which kills the immersion for me. 

An early scene at the pyramids looks especially artificial and the addition of CGI every now and then, for animals in the river or just the background for some shots, was always a bit too noticeable and distracting. So in general I’d say: I give DEATH ON THE NILE 6.3 out of 10. It’s more like 6.5 but I don’t do that.


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