Kenneth Branagh returns as Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s world-class detective, in Death on the Nile, but unfortunately the movie doesn’t rise to the standard set by Murder on the Orient Express five years ago.
The sequel is beautifully done. Aficionados of dieselpunk and the 1930s will find plenty to like here. There are spectacular shots of the Nile, the riverboat on which most of the action takes place, and the Temples of Abu Simbel, which at the time were still located right on the water. (The complex was controversially relocated in 1968, when the construction of the Aswan High Dam raised the water level.)
Sophie Okonedo lip-syncs era-appropriate blues music by Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The rest of the cast is no less impressive. Gal Gadot, of Wonder Woman fame, stars as a wealthy heiress who fears for her life. Emma Mackey, best known for portraying Maeve Wiley in the Netflix comedy-drama series Sex Education, plays her rival for the affections of Armie Hammer’s character. Readers will recognize Hammer from Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (our review here).
The movie’s weakness is its plot. The first half is too slow, the second too chaotic. I won’t go into detail lest it spoil the ending. As in Murder on the Orient Express, part of the fun is figuring out who did it in real time. But I don’t think I’m giving away too much when I tell you the conspiracy here is less original than in the previous film.
I still recommend giving it a watch, though, especially if you have Disney+ anyway, where Death on the Nile is streaming. It’s quite enjoyable. I just hope the next one — and I hope there will be a next one! — gets back to the level of Orient Express.