Despite 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express (read our review HERE) having plush production values, an all star cast (see them at the World premiere HERE) and an intriguing whodunit it was the outrageous moustache that Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot was sporting that was as much a draw as anything else. Well the Belgian detective returns with a follow up murder mystery that gives his moustache its own back story in the opening 1914 WWII set prologue that also gives an insight into a long lost love and a first glimpse of his insightful observations that saves his regiment as they leave their trench to ambush the enemy on what would have been a suicide mission.
By 1937 he has a reputation as a now world famous detective invited to a Big Band night at a dance hall where a loved up couple Simon (Armie Hammer) and Jacqueline (Emma Mackey) besotted with each other until her friend the heiress Linnet (Gal Gadot) arrives and within six weeks Simon has run off and married her instead. The pair whisk themselves away to Egypt for a honeymoon with a handful of guests on a steamboat trip up the Nile. That there guests are nearly all with a motive to want to see Linnet dead makes for a distinctly uneasy party. Their guests include Linnet’s slippery lawyer, her godmother Marie (Jennifer Saunders) with a disdain for wealth, Marie’s companion Bowers (Dawn French) who now has to work as a nurse after losing her own fortune, Linnet’s former boyfriend Dr Windlesham (Russell Brand) and worst of all is Jacqueline, furious at Simon having left her and has been following the couple wherever they go and greeted with the sort of welcome Prince Andrew gets at Legoland.
Sumptuously photographed (though the landscapes are CGI), the party takes a turn for the worse when Simon is shot by Jacqueline and Linnet having retired to bed with a night cap finds that the only shots she takes is to the head when she’s found dead the following morning. It’s possibly an over confident murder who kills someone when the worlds best detective is on board to find out who murdered her and why?
Death on the Nile has stuck to the template that made Murder on the Orient Express so enjoyable – an all star cast (although this is not quite as starry) and though the publicity has kept Armie Hammers presence to a minimum he is a main player here and there’s an unintended irony that in light of what he has been recently accused he’s trapped on a boat with an ever increasing body count presumably hoping that they’ll be part of the buffet. The casting of French & Saunders as well as Russell Brand seems a bit of a waste as the roles severely inhibit their comic skills in what are subdued performances for such exuberant performers.
The locations are exotic though it’s all been done in a studio with the clever use of CGI and the whodunit murder mystery that keeps you guessing to the end. It’s only really the last half of the film where Poirot starts investigating that the script adheres to Christie’s oeuvre where each is a suspect with a motive in the summing up by Poirot in the climactic scene. But in the authors typical style the audience are not privy to all the evidence and it is Poirot’s summing up where he fills in the gaps of what is known with facts that he couldn’t possibly know. But that’s always part of the charm of these Agatha Christie novels and Branagh makes the Belgian detective his own in a lush adaptation of a classic story.
Watch the trailer HERE
CGI or real? – the story behind the boat in Death on the Nile