Hollywood is so obsessive about origin tales that even tales that weren’t initially origin tales get became origin tales. At the very least, that’s the case with Dying On The Nile, director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Inexperienced’s upscaled sequel to their polished-but-hollow 2017 Agatha Christie adaptation Homicide On The Orient Specific. Earlier than we even get to the movie’s pre-Egyptian, London-based opening, there’s a black-and-white prologue set in trenches of World Conflict I Belgium, the place we meet a younger Poirot (Branagh, all CG-youthified) and the love of his life (Susannah Fielding, aka Jennie from This Time With Alan Partridge) to be taught why and the way he got here to sport his magnificent facial hair. That’s proper, we’re getting the origin story of the moustache.
In a location-based murder-mystery the place it takes half-hour to get on the Nile and an hour earlier than the primary dying, this does really feel a teensy bit narratively extravagant. However Inexperienced and Branagh have a fair-enough motive: drawing us in nearer to Poirot and digging beneath the useless, fussy, OCD-suffering floor. Because of this, Nile feels way more private than Orient Specific, with a lot greater stakes. So it pays off, making this PCU (Poirot Cinematic Universe) entry rather more satisfying and interesting than its predecessor.
Branagh appears extra comfy within the position, too, and it’s totally applicable that he’s the very best factor within the starry ensemble, whether or not his brusque enquiries are ruffling the feathers of French, Saunders or Annette Bening, or he’s loveably confessing his sudden, newfound partiality to “Bluesy” music. The sides he displayed throughout Orient Specific have softened, and it’s a welcome character development.
It’s disappointing, nevertheless, that the backdrop lacks the believability and enchantment of our sleuthing frontman. By no means as soon as does it really feel like we’re actually in Egypt, least of all such iconic vacationer spots because the Pyramids of Giza and the traditional temple of Abu Simbel, with Branagh’s digital digital camera too typically gliding round digital vistas that endure a patina of too-crisp, too-bright, golden-glow fakeness.
Gal Gadot does get to maintain her personal accent, however in a job that favours glamour over depth, she hardly stretches herself.
The ensemble, in the meantime, is a blended bag stuffed with misplaced accents: Rose Leslie doing French, Bening doing British, Jennifer Saunders doing American, Russell Model doing posh. As pivotal participant Linnet Ridgeway, Gal Gadot does get to maintain her personal accent, however in a job that favours glamour over depth, she hardly stretches herself. Spectacular actors like Letitia Wright and Sophie Okonedo lack the screen-time to really shine, whereas the unlucky placement of Armie Hammer in the important thing position of Simon Doyle — who kinds one third of a torrid love triangle — proves unwelcomingly distracting. Particularly throughout his opening scene, the place he performs a steamy, grindy dance scene with Emma Mackey, as his ill-treated lover Jacqueline de Bellefort.
In some methods, Dying On The Nile is a sufferer of circumstance: beset by controversy, delayed by Covid and, in fact, arriving after Knives Out raised the bar approach excessive for the fashionable murder-mystery. However its strengths stay evident in its elegant supply materials and Branagh’s satisfying tackle its hero detective.