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Film Review: “Death on the Nile” Succeeds in Continuing the Quality of the Murder Mystery Anthology

Written by: Adam Vaughn | February 10th, 2022

Film poster: “Death on the Nile”

Death on the Nile (Kenneth Branagh, 2022) 3 out of 4 stars.

Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) returns to both the director’s chair and lead role to deliver the sequel to Murder on the Orient Express and continue the legacy of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. Death on the Nile sends detective Poirot (Branagh) on a vacation-turned-murder case across the Nile River, where the young Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman 1984) is murdered while on her honeymoon with new husband Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer, Rebecca). Surrounded by all of Ridgway’s closest friends and acquaintances, Poirot must interrogate the folks aboard the ship sailing to find the culprit behind the murder.

Death on the Nile features an exquisite aesthetic of early-1900s Egypt, and much of the film’s lengthy (often unnecessary) exposition is kept interesting through pure art direction and cinematography. The vast number of key characters, performed by a powerhouse cast of actors, drives the story up until the climactic moment where Ridgeway is murdered, and each character has a unique development and personality that makes a large cast worth following. While the majority of the film’s first half is spent building a premise, and takes its time doing so, the film’s visual appeals are a fun experience.

Gal Gadot in DEATH ON THE NILE. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios ©2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

As a whodunit narrative, Death on the Nile is sufficient, but does ultimately spin a predictable tale, with culprits that are easily foreseeable from the beginning, even if their motive and character development are poetic. The overall narrative structure in the second half reads methodical and offers little surprise (even if it provides plenty of entertainment). While Death on the Nile keeps its momentum and provides the suspense and mystery adequate to drive the story, it breaks little new ground and provides no new styles or ideas.

While the movie may not have a substantial message or deeper meaning, very little can be said against its ability to provide a gripping narrative. Grounded in dazzling performances from the likes of Russell Brand (Army of One), Letitia Wright (Black Panther), Sophie Okonedo (Wild Rose), and Tom Bateman (returning as Bouc), Death on the Nile creates crowd-pleasing sequences galore. Fans of the first installment will enjoy this second entry for its continuity of aesthetic, even if it leaves much more to be desired in content.

l-r: Ali Fazal, Letitia Wright, and Sophie Okonedo in DEATH ON THE NILE. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios ©2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
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Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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