DEATH ON THE NILE
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, and Letitia Wright
Director: Kenneth Branagh
I love a good murder mystery. The intrigue, the twists, the style… and Death on the Nile has it all in spades. It’s salaciously decadent and melodramatic, living up to the spectacle of author Agatha Christie’s words. Kenneth Branagh is more subdued than his previous stint as Hercule Poirot and further cements his absolute control of the character and the direction. Taking longer to get into the mystery than most whodunits, Nile’s second half is made more suspenseful because we live longer with the ensemble’s deliciously indulgent performances (Russell Brand is a standout). An early surprise of the year candidate.
Death on the Nile is fine, but it isn’t anything special. In fact, it’s pretty much the same movie as Murder on the Orient Express: an old-fashioned murder mystery built on a capable (if unremarkable) cast and exceptional production design. However, it’s held back by a sluggish start (the eponymous death doesn’t happen until an hour into the movie), lazily done exposition, and a general lack of forward momentum. It just kind of moseys along like an old man walking laps at the mall. That said, if you enjoyed Orient Express, you’ll likely enjoy this too.