Britain’s favourite Belgian sleuth is back with Kenneth Branagh’s second go-around as Agatha Christie’s world-famous detective, Hercule Poirot! Starring, directed and produced by Branagh, we see his incarnation of Poirot grace the screens once again in the brand new adaptation of Death On The Nile, based on Christie’s novel of the same name.
In his second attempt to finally steal some time to himself, Poirot retreats to Egypt, where he gets roped into a tour aboard a glamorous river streamer by anxious newlyweds, Linnet and Simon Doyle (Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer). It’s here that he gets pulled into all the onboard drama when an obsessive stalker seeks revenge on her ex-lover, turning the honeymooner’s cruise into a terrifying trip to hell and back. As one of Christie’s most well-known classics, it’s no surprise that people were buzzing about this one!
So let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: how did Branagh hold up as Britain’s beloved Belgian detective? Well, it’s certainly an interesting take! Brannagh does a good job of capturing the character quirks we know and love in association with Poirot, observing various little idiosyncrasies that any fan would recognise in a heartbeat while being a source of both endearment and entertainment to newcomers. Yet he adds his own unique flair to the role, bringing new layers of nuance to the character that keep him recognisable yet fresh.
Branagh’s performance was accompanied by a cast crammed with A-listers, including the likes of Dawn French, Jenifer Saunders, Russel Brand and many more, all of whom brought an interesting and distinct performance to the table.
The movie also displayed some stand-out cinematography to compliment the stellar cast, with beautiful colourisation showcasing a super vibrant palate. In an age in which muddy looking colour palettes have become overly fashionable within the film industry, it’s always refreshing to see a film crammed with colours that pop! That said, the movie definitely could have benefited from more set-building in the flesh and less so on the screens, with many establishing shots containing an over-abundance of CGI. The gritty atmosphere would have been better captured if the movie had spent its budget on more real-life locations or model sets, as opposed to computer-generated mock-ups. With an aesthetically beautiful, true-to-life feel in the scenes filmed on location, a sudden eye-full of overly-smooth CG could sometimes be jarring.
A standout factor of this movie when compared to Branagh’s first Poirot instalment, with his 2017 adaptation of Murder On the Orient Express, was the scaling back of action scenes. While Murder On The Orient Express wasn’t action-heavy by any means, what little there was still felt like overkill for a character recognised by the world as contemplative, flamboyant and fussy. As such, the reeling in of overdone action sequences was definitely a prudent decision, giving the movie a more sedate, understated feel reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s original novels.
Although it has to be said that, in terms of storyline, this adaptation of Death On The Nile deviates a great deal from the source material in many areas, particularly when it comes to characters. With whole character arcs entirely rejigged, some were left merely with fragmented references to the source, while others bear no resemblance to their literary counterparts whatsoever. And, without giving anything away, let’s just say that the great detective himself was certainly not exempt. As such, one’s enjoyment of the film may well be dependent on how much of a purist one is in terms of the original story.
All in all, Death On The Nile is an enjoyable take on Christie’s classic novel. While it sometimes deviates quite heavily, it’s nevertheless filled with tense twists and turns that’ll have you chewing at your nails. A neat watch perfect for a Sunday afternoon, Death On The Nile will be sure to keep you guessing – as any murder mystery should!
Do you think Branagh is a good fit to fill the shoes of Hercule Poirot? And what did you think of his take on Agatha Christie’s Death On The Nile? Let us know in the comment section below!