Crime Death on the Nile

Review: ‘Death on the Nile’ is an Old-School Murder Mystery Sequel that Delivers More of the Same

February 9, 2022Ben MK

Whether it's the daily Wordle or the latest installment in the Scream franchise, everyone loves a good puzzle. And when it comes to good old-fashioned murder mysteries, there's no denying that Agatha Christie is one of the genre's most influential authors, having created such iconic characters as Inspector Poirot and Miss Marple. Now, five long years after Kenneth Branagh brought moviegoing audiences his version of Poirot in 2017's Murder on the Orient Express, the Thor and Belfast director is back for a second go-round. Only this time, he's trading a steam-powered locomotive for a river-worthy steamboat, as Poirot sets out to solve a shocking homicide committed amid Egypt's most ancient wonders.

The sequel begins with a prologue set in 1914 Belgium, where a young and moustache-less Hercule Poirot is thrust into the midst of one of World War I's most pivotal events, as the inexperienced soldier and his fellow Belgian troops attempt to mount an offensive attack against the invading German army at Yser. However, when their plan goes horribly wrong and he suffers a disfiguring injury, Poirot finds his career path forever altered. Fast forward to 1937 London, and the now-world-renowned detective finds himself on the cusp of his latest case, after walking into a jazz nightclub where singer Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo) happens to be performing. But despite the spotlight being on Salome, it's Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey) and Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) who catch Poirot's attention, thanks to the pair's scandalous display of public affection on the dance floor.

Six months pass and Poirot lands in Egypt, where his old friend Bouc (Tom Bateman) extends an invitation to join him and his artist mother Euphemia (Annette Bening) at the post-wedding celebration of wealthy heiress Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot). Imagine Poirot's surprise, then, when he learns that Linnet's new husband is none other than Simon, who has swiftly and coldheartedly broken off his engagement with Jacqueline. Unfortunately for the newlyweds, Simon's former fiancée isn't so easily dissuaded and has stalked the couple all the way to the banks of the Nile, where the lovebirds are about to embark on a honeymoon cruise aboard the S.S. Karnak. Yet, when Linnet ends up on the receiving end of a 22 caliber pistol, could it really have been Jacqueline who pulled the trigger? Or could the culprit be any one of the other ten, equally suspicious guests along for the ride?

From greed to jealousy to downright disdain, it quickly becomes apparent that each one of them may have their own motive for wanting to see Linnet dead. Could it be Linnet's long-suffering maid, Louise (Rose Leslie), who blames her for the breakup of her own relationship? Or perhaps it's Linnet's cousin, Andrew (Ali Fazal), a shifty fella who's also her lawyer. Or how about Linnet's godmother, Marie, and her partner (comedy duo Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French), who jointly harbor a secret contempt for Linnet and her riches? And let's not forget Linnet's ex, Linus (Russell Brand), a doctor who's skilled at wielding a scalpel, and Salome's niece and manager, Rosalie (Letitia Wright), a former schoolmate of Linnet's with cutthroat business sense.

With the list of suspects nearly a dozen names long, it would seem that Poirot has his work cut out for him. Luckily, Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green are up to the task, methodically dangling both clues and red herrings for viewers to ponder. Still, as the body count rises, one can't help but wonder just what the point of it all is. After all, the film's predecessor was a classic whodunit in every sense of the word, and Death on the Nile is more of the same. But with the movie murder mystery genre becoming increasingly crowded, only time will tell if an old-school detective like Hercule Poirot has what it takes to outsmart his contemporary counterparts.

Death on the Nile releases February 11th, 2022 from 20th Century Studios. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for violence, some bloody images, and sexual material. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 7 min.

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