As films delayed for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic finally come out, another sequel to a hit from years ago, a remake of a 1970s film and an adaptation of a story from the 1930s is now on the big screen.
But rather than the usual cinematic universes created after Marvel and DC Comics, it’s the return of an author and a character no one asked for – Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective with the iconic mustache who solved the murder on the Orient Express.
Now, with the return of director and star Kenneth Branagh, Poirot has set off to Egypt for “Death on the Nile,” a star-studded murder mystery unlike most movies with a great cast and a thrilling story full of twists and turns. of death. Rather than focusing on big action scenes or graphic violence, Christie’s stories revel in the glitz and glamor of their settings and the intrigue each character offers to build the story and keep the mystery alive. .
Although this is a famous story from decades ago, it may be a whole new mystery to some – I didn’t know that until I saw this version. Being different from other trends in Hollywood could have its advantages in offering something slightly familiar but still unique and special. Either way, with Branagh at the helm, “Death on the Nile” is a smart, safe, and elegant adventure worth the two-year wait.
Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) is on vacation in Egypt in an epic landscape of desert vistas and the majestic pyramids of Giza. Poirot is invited on a luxury cruise that quickly turns into a terrifying search for a murderer when the idyllic honeymoon of a perfect couple (Army Hammer and Gal Gadot) is tragically cut short.
Because everyone on board knows the couple – and wants one or both dead – this tale of unbridled passion and crippling jealousy features a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travelers and enough wicked twists to fill the Nile.
As Poirot and his trusted companion, Bouc (Tom Bateman), begin their investigation and identify a motley collection of potential murderers (including Annette Benning, Russell Brand and Ali Fazel), several of the suspects also come to know of their disappearance, which does not make deepen the mystery of the identity of the killer.
There’s something fun about a character who is so good at what he does and established as the best in his field. It simultaneously excuses some of the more outlandish claims while providing plenty of humor both by the character and at his expense. Branagh plays Poirot as someone who knows he’s the best, but he also has subtle character moments that explore his neurosis and a backstory that fuels his motivations later in the investigation.
It’s hard to talk about some characters more than others, because the ones that stood out are either directly involved in the murder or are just red herrings to add to the mystery. Needless to say, everyone does a great job, both because of the brilliance of the original novel and Branagh’s directing.
Because it’s set in the 1930s, an interesting aspect is how the performances sound a lot like movies from that period, with plenty of transatlantic accents and some performances that are more over the top and others feel a bit silly. But these fit perfectly with the kind of vibe and feeling that these movies are going for, which sets them apart as something different.
Unlike most movies today, the entire production is full of color and set design, costumes, and the whole look of it jumps off the screen. With so many thrillers and mysteries trying to be dark and gritty, it’s refreshing to have a film bask in its high-society setting and enjoy all the fun that comes with playing in the sandbox of the rich. .
At this point, it’s hard to say if Branagh will be able to maintain this streak with future installments. Although “Murder” was a hit, “Death” had a relatively slow opening. But with the care and attention that Branagh puts into these productions in front of and behind the camera, I would be happy to follow Poirot on future adventures.