Starring Kenneth Branagh, Annette Bening, Tom Bateman, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Sophie Okonedo, Letitia Wright, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Jennifer Saunders, Emma Mackey
Adapted from one of Agatha Christie’s best novels, Death on the Nile is her famed creation, Hercule Poirot’s, finest hour in my estimation. Aboard a river boat along the Nile, the detective (played by Branagh for the second time) is drawn in to a murder plot involving a woman who seems to have everything, Linnet Ridgeway (Gadot), her new husband (Hammer), and his jilted lover (Mackey). Like his previous adaptation, Murder on the Orient Express, Branagh’s work is flashy, old-fashioned, enjoyable, but crippled by familiarity. I’ve read the novel, I’ve seen the 1978 version, I know whodunit. A great adaptation can overcome this. Branagh’s film doesn’t. Outside of his likable performance as Poirot and the Otterbournes (Wright, Okonedo), the gallery of supporting characters don’t make much of an impression. Neither does the location which was Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express’ greatest strength. I look forward to more outings from Branagh as Poirot but so far, there’s nothing essential about these films.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-