The difficulty with Death on the Nile is that Agatha Christie fans probably will have read the book or saw at least one of the three previous films of the story and therefore know what the answer to the question of: ‘Who Done It’ as Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot searches for answers. But even with that level of handicap the film is enjoyable to watch.
In the beginning we find Poirot as a young man in 1914 fighting in a trench during World War I. He devises a strategy to help the Allied forces but cannot stop his captain death from a booby trap which mutilates Poirot’s face. He is encouraged by a nurse to grow a mustache to hide his scars and it becomes a permanent part of his persona and look.
Later in 1937 he is vacationing in Egypt the large effective cast comes together on the SS Karnak. Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (Gal Gadot) who is newly married to Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) along with Jackie de Bellefort (Emma Mackey) Simon’s former lover who is clearly not happy at losing out in romance. They are the focus of the story and the various murders which occur on the Karnak.
Branagh takes his time introducing all of the characters, Russell Brand plays Linnet’s former fiancé, Ali Frazal is Linnet’s cousin and lawyer, Dawn French is a nurse and companion, Rose Leslie is Linnet’s lady’s maid, Sophie D is a jazz singer, Jennifer Sanders is Linnet’s godmother and socialite Communist and Letitia Wright is Sophie Okonedo’s niece and business manager and a classmate of Linnet. It’s all one seriously related shipboard mystery.
Branagh takes the story and fills it with beauty and style. Gal Gadot and Emma Mackey are impressively dressed for wealthy folks in the 1930s they standout as poised attractive women. The travelog along the Nile is beautifully filmed and each of the characters is played by quality performers who fit smoothly into the mystery.
As we expect Poirot figures out the twisted plot but the interaction of the characters and their past affiliations work to blur what has happened and who has committed murder on the Nile.
Branagh has pieced together a fine old classic for the big screen which is worthy of Agatha Christie.