Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot is gracing the screen once again in what now looks to be a new film series from Kenneth Branagh. He is following up his adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express with Death on the Nile, another of Christie’s most famous works. Perhaps it’s my general dislike for Orient Express as a book, but I found Branagh’s adaptation to be somewhat too hoary for its own good. Nile, on the other hand, is a better and much more disturbing story – potentially teeing up Branagh for a genuine hit.
Naturally, this story begins with death, though that’s secondary to the mood such an environment creates, given that it is set almost entirely on a steamboat on the Nile (no duh). The subject of the titular death is Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot, whose character Linnet Doyle attempts to get help from Poirot early on in the story before meeting the untimely end that sets the plot in motion.
Of course, the joy of getting Poirot on the big screen again is the chance to avoid having to cast “that guy” character actors in leading roles. Indeed, like Orient Express, the book has actually been adapted twice before – once as a film in the 1970s with Peter Ustinov as Poirot, and then again when David Suchet played him on television for ITV. But none got close to a cast as expansive as: Armie Hammer, Letitia Wright, Sex Education’s Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Russell Brand (imagine!), Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie, and Annette Bening. (And… breathe.)
Kenneth Branagh is obviously playing Poirot again, truly one of the only genuinely pleasurable parts of Orient Express. He adapts the detective’s idiosyncracies in a much grander, more theatrical fashion than David Suchet’s excellent, but more measured take. Branagh plays to the requirements of a bigger screen, striding around like a movie star rather than an unassuming protagonist. That is perhaps the thing that sunk Orient Express, in an odd way, because it so consumed the necessarily large cast that Branagh’s outrageous moustache was the only thing that registered.
Such qualms are less likely to be a problem this time. Nile is less of a pot-boiler, as the setting allows for more hidden corners and interesting spaces than the cramped conditions of the train. One can more imagine Branagh’s Poirot owning the environment here. Of course, the question remains about whether another Poirot is really necessary, but I do see this as a chance to answer in the affirmative. This is the movie for Branagh to show that his Poirot – his dashing, debonair version anyway – can operate in the current movie environment. I can get behind that if it works.
Kenneth Brannagh’s Death On The Nile will be released in the UK on the 9th of October 2020. More information about the film can be found here.
For information on other great movies playing in London, please click here.