‘Death on the Nile’ Movie Review: A Predictable Whodunit Film

Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile marks my first film review of 2022. Was it everything I hoped for. Meh.

The film, which is finally releasing on February 11th, is arriving 2 years later than expected. Of course, the pandemic impacted that to some degree. 20th Century Fox got bought by Disney. And at one point, the studio reportedly considered reshooting the film with a different actor.

Let’s dive into it, shall we?

Official Description

Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot’s Egyptian vacation aboard a glamorous river steamer turns into a terrifying search for a murderer when a picture-perfect couple’s idyllic honeymoon is tragically cut short. Set against an epic landscape of sweeping desert vistas and the majestic Giza pyramids, this tale of unbridled passion and incapacitating jealousy features a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travelers, and enough wicked twists and turns to leave audiences guessing until the final, shocking denouement. 

Movie Trailer:

Death on the Nile Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

As the film starts out, you may be checking your ticket to make sure you’re in the right theater. What feels like it could be Belfast (also directed by Kenneth Branagh) or maybe even somehow a sequel to 1917, spends a fair amount of time establishing the background story of Kenneth Branagh’s character, Hercule Poirot.

Why do I mention it, it’s my first gripe. While the end of the film ties together why the film began this way, it doesn’t feel needed. And when a movie already feels slow and drawn out, you look for scenes that could have been cut – and for me, the black and white intro scenes didn’t add to the film.

Plot & Script

Taking a look at specifics, my main complaint about the film is that it’s predictable from nearly the beginning. While it may not be clear how the murder happened, it’s absolutely clear who did it. There was no surprise twist, which, for a film like this, there needs to be.

The film is based on Agatha Christie’s 1937 novel, and while it may be a better movie than 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express (the general consensus with critics), the script comes across as a shaky murder mystery that embraces needlessly chatty characters as if they’re toddlers running around with no direction. It’s clear the goal is to distract you and make you think every character is a suspect. But in order for that to not feel sloppy and like it’s wasting your time, it needs to be done in a smart way. It’s not.

As a disclaimer, I’ve not read the book on which the film is based. But in general, I am a fan of Christie’s work – so my inclination is not to place blame on the source material. 

Casting

Let’s start with the elephant in the room, shall we? After hearing all the press about Armie Hammer’s… um… horrifying hobbies (we’ll leave it at that – but if you want to go down the rabbit hole, here you go), it’s awkward watching him on the big screen.

From a studio standpoint, it’s a difficult situation to be in. What happens when your star is canceled, but you can’t cancel the film? Hammer’s involvement in Death on the Nile wasn’t something that could be fixed with reshoots, they would have had to reshoot the whole film, which they apparently did consider. However, ultimately they decided not to, so the studio is screwed either way. Hammer being in this film is a PR nightmare.

With the film’s delays, as mentioned earlier, perhaps the hope is that audiences won’t remember all of Hammer’s bad press. Not likely, but let’s leave it at that.

Moving on to the rest of the cast, this ensemble works well together. Despite the lackluster script and sloppy characters, the cast does a good job with what they’re given to work with.

Visuals

The colors are nice is pretty much the only nice thing I can say about the visuals… The film tries to embrace an old-fashioned style but then has multiple affairs with cheap CGI and a camera that loves swooping motions more than George of the Jungle. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling the cinematography. If they would have stuck with a purely old-fashioned feel for the film, I would have been much more engaged.

Overall Thoughts

To be clear, despite some of my more harsh statements above, it’s not a terrible film, it’s just not a great one. Predictable from nearly the start with no real surprises make it a largely boring film. Add in the run time, and it feels like you’ve wasted a whole night watching one of the more poorly constructed whodunit films.

If you’re looking for a good date night movie for Valentine’s Day, I recommend Amazon’s I Want You Back. It’s cute and surprisingly entertaining for what is.

Death on the Nile Movie Review:

Grade: C-

Death on the Nile opens in U.S. theaters on February 11, 2022.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Emma's Geek Girl Blog, Featured, Movie Reviews, Movies

Responses

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  1. Well I almost didn’t read this review to avoid any potential spoilers but I am glad I did as I was actually expecting what you have explained. I liked the first film and wondered if they would be able to match it. I am still going to see it as it has been on my watch list so long! Good review!

  2. Oh Emma, wait! I missed that you gave it a ‘C-!’ A ‘C-‘, really? Oh come on, it was not that bad, ha! I really liked and hope Branagh will continue on the series. While not original, the mystery of it all is fun to watch play out.

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