The Nile: Death at the Crossroads (12A)

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Even Dame Agatha Christie didn’t think of inciting accusations of sexual abuse or a pandemic to the plots of her whodunnits. But Death On The Nile is Sir Kenneth Branagh’s extravagant adaptation of Christie’s 1937 novel.

Branagh’s Hercule Puirot investigated a number of suspects in murder. Armie Hammer is the American actor most frequently mentioned. He has since been accused of cannibalism and violence against women. Covid-19 has repeatedly delayed the release of the movie, as if this weren’t enough to make publicists cringe.

Finally, he emerges from the swirling of horror and controversy, chugs SS Karnak the magnificent Art Deco passenger steamer with a high-quality international cast… and Russell Brand.

Brand is a Dr Windlesham of high class, and tries his best to avoid his Estuary vowels. However, there are still a few humours that crash against the Karnak. The dubious accents provide an annoying distraction. Branagh, who is strenuously trying to act like Poirot, cannot explain how Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (played by Gal Gadot in Israel) learned English as a second language.

Suspects: Armie Hammer and Gal Gadot star in Death On The Nile, Sir Kenneth Branagh's lavish adaptation of Christie's 1937 novel

Suspects. Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot and Gal Gadot are the stars of Death On The Nile by Sir Kenneth Branagh. This lavish adaptation of Christie’s 1937 novel is starring Armie Hammer.

Strangely enough, as Branagh’s most recent release, Belfast, began in color before changing into black and then white, this one is exactly the opposite. 

Monochrome begins on the Western Front. We are shown a pre-title sequence which is entirely unnecessary. It shows that Poirot’s story began in monochrome. This was because he had been forced to grow a large moustache by his superiors to cover scarring from World War One.

Star: Kenneth Branagh stars as Hercule Poirot. reprising his role from Murder On The Orient Express five years ago

Star: Kenneth Branagh stars as Hercule Poirot. reprising his role from Murder On The Orient Express five years ago

The film’s impeccable production value will soon shine with the right colour. After Jacqueline de Bellefort, Linnet’s dear friend and fiancee (Emma Mackey) abruptly ended their engagement, Linnet marries dishonest Simon Doyle (Hammer). Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey) is enraged and follows Linnet on her Egyptian honeymoon. However, she’s not alone in carrying emotional baggage.

Linnet has Mrs Van Schuyler as her godmother (Jennifer Saunders), Mrs Bowers, her nurse companion (Dawn French), Poirot friend Bouc (Tom Bateman), Euphemia (Annette Bening), Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo), and Rosalie (Letitia Wright). All have secret identities that Poirot will need to uncover.

We are not allowed to ignore his emotional history, and Branagh, who wrote Murder On The Orient Express five-years ago, explores Poirot’s complicated ‘interland’ of loss and love.

All-star cast: As upper-class Dr Windlesham, Russell Brand does his level best to suppress his Estuary vowels

All-star cast: As upper-class Dr Windlesham, Russell Brand does his level best to suppress his Estuary vowels

This film is beautifully packaged and will please the Egyptian Tourist Board, but not anyone else. At least, until the movie appears on Christmas TV schedules. Then it’ll be perfect for post-prandial sleep. If you’ve been a long time since reading the book, or watching the 1978 film (which featured Bette Smith, Maggie Smith and Mia Farrow making Branagh look second-division), you might find yourself mildly interested in Poirot’s exercises of the grey cells. 

It is a greater challenge to his cerebral function when one of the crucial clues, provided it doesn’t spoil too much, goes out of line. It’s not easy to keep it company when a lot is being done in a loyal manner. Bening, a normally wonderful actress, sometimes chews the scenery. It’s good that it is beautiful.

The film ends with Poirot fixing at least one suspect in the eye with his gimlet and declaring, “It might be you!”It is impossible to not think about I’m a Celebrity, Get Out of Here and half-expect to see a smiling Ant or Dec behind a potted tree to lend a helping hand.

Being so irreverent over one of the greatest fictional sleuths is not only painful, but also incredibly embarrassing. Even so, you can still catch Poirot on TV occasionally, featuring the newly knighted David Suchet. This film is overly long and takes up more than 2 hours to complete. It has a retro feel that makes it so relevant.

  • Friday is Death on The Nile
Starlets: Of the murder suspects investigated by Branagh's Hercule Poirot, the most prominent is played by Armie Hammer

Starlets: Armie Hammer plays the prominent role of Branagh’s Hercule Poirot’s murder suspects.