Let’s see the origins of the stache.
Death on the Nile is Kenneth Branagh’s follow-up to the equally forgettable Murder on the Orient Express that simply did not work for me. This time, we follow Hercule Poirot on a boat after a new bride is found murdered and everyone on board is a potential suspect.
The film has just about everyone in it, and I don’t feel like listing them all, but do visit the IMDB page if you are interested. The film delayed due to Covid and other reasons, stars Arnie Hammer and Gal Gadot. People thought the film would flop because of these two. You see, Gal Gadot made a bit of a tone-deaf PSA during Covid, and some people found it a bit cringe. Arnie Hammer has been accused of violent sexual assault and other illegal behavior. Am I the only one who has a problem with these two being lumped together as problematic? Imagine if you were with a friend and they did not want to go near two people. The reasons being one of the chews a bit loudly, annoying sure. The other, well he kills and eats household pets. Are those the same? I don’t often call things sexist, but lumping Gadot with an alleged criminal is beyond insanity.
Branagh, to his credit, listened to critiques of the first film and we have a more subdued and less overbearing Poirot. Other actors are given more space, and the whole enterprise doesn’t feel like a Branagh vanity project. I like Branagh as a director and actor, but I’ve never fully enjoyed a film where he is both. His painfully sincere eccentricities seem to overload when he is in too much control.
Back to the cast, we have a ton of characters (and this is a cut down list from the book) and it is hard to keep them all straight. We’re given information on them only to make them suspects, but not to make them fully fleshed out. What this creates is a ship full of pretty and mildly interesting people who may or may not have murdered someone.
The funny thing is I just watched the film and I can’t remember anything about it. I got nothing. It is a nothing film.
The plot is predictable but not fun. With the dumb twist in Orient, I found there to be no fun here as I knew there was going to be red herrings, and there are. The whodunnit genre is hard to pull off, and here we choose between Occam’s Razor or a convoluted mess. With Branagh, you know it is going to be 50/50 on which path, but do you care about either thread? These are empty paths populated by nothing characters.
I’d have more to say, but I can’t remember anything else about the film. I’m not sure why they didn’t replace Arnie Hammer with all his insane drama right now. It isn’t like he brings a lot to the film. They could have replaced him with a beanbag chair, and it would have had the same emotional heft.
Skip it. Maybe the third time Branagh will get the formula right.