Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot is back, but not as you know him.
Kenneth Branagh who once again wears many hats as director, producer, and actor, has taken more artistic liberties with the source material of ‘Death on the Nile’, throwing in a dark back story to force gravatas onto a character that does not need it.
Gone is the quirky, cheeky, whimsical charm of the moustached detective we’ve all grown to love. Instead, we have an unhappy and lonely shell of a man, still with OCD, and who strangely somehow keeps finding himself in sticky situations with death not far behind him.
Although I do understand that this would have been Branagh’s intention to develop Poirot’s character further, differing a lot from the books while also creating a cinematic saga, Death on the Nile isn’t nearly as enjoyable as its predecessor. Even with the return of Tom Bateman as Poirot’s smiley friend, Bouc, or the addition of the talents of Gal Gadot, Death on the Nile is severely inferior to Murder on the Orient Express.
Perhaps this is because the cast aren’t as decorated as the ensemble from the first film, maybe it’s due to the new characters not being remotely likable, Hercule Poirot not being happy with his life, or maybe just the fact that Murder on the Orient Express is a better Agatha Christie story than Death on the Nile.
I appreciate Branagh’s input and attempts to make Death on the Nile an exciting cinematic experience, however, in the end the film wasn’t nearly as captivating nor as thrilling as I had hoped it would be. I found myself wishing for Poirot to just call it a day, leave the characters to kill each other on the boat and for him to get off and run. I didn’t care as much for wanting the mystery to be solved, at least not more than my desire for Hercule Poirot to be content and safe. Even with the film’s ending – I understood it, and it felt final, but I did not feel satisfied.
Despite being filmed entirely in England; Death on the Nile does provide some comfort to those that have wanderlust, which is great considering not many of us have been able to really travel internationally as freely as we could prior to the global pandemic. The sets are extremely convincing, and you could be forgiven for believing that the characters really did travel to Egypt. The cinematography, props, hair, make-up, and costuming are also quite remarkable. However, this is where the positives end.
Death on the Nile isn’t necessarily bad. It delivers on having death, a crime, and a case that needs solving like any typical Poirot story. I just wish that the characters were more appealing, less two-dimensional, the story was more suspenseful, and took less time to build a character arc for a character that doesn’t need it.