Skip to main content

Death on the Nile Is a Fun Adaptation, Cursed by Its Cast

3.5/5 deaths

armie and gal death on the nile

There is something magical about Kenneth Branagh’s ability to cast actors who are playing characters that are not supposed to be good people and time it to real-world controversy. That’s what happened with Murder on the Orient Express, and that is what happened three times with the actor/director’s 2022 film Death on the Nile—all of which is unfortunately souring Death on the Nile in the eyes of those on Twitter (and rightfully so).

Not only does the movie bring to us the final slated performance of disgraced actor Armie Hammer, but it also stars Gal Gadot after her controversial comments on violence in Israel and Palestine, as well as Letitia Wright after her anti-vax rhetoric. So, having all of that controversy in one movie was … well, working against it. And the marketing clearly tried its best to hide the Hammer (at least) from the trailers.

Sadly, all of that sours what could have been a pretty fun and interesting adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name—especially since Branagh does have the official approve from the home of Agatha Christie.

**Slight spoilers for Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile lie ahead.**

The story takes us to Egypt, where Hercule Poirot (Branagh) is taking a holiday away from solving crimes to focus on his own relaxation, when he runs into his old friend Bouc (Tom Bateman, who we met in Murder on the Orient Express) and his mother Euphemia Bouc (Annette Bening). They’re there for the wedding of their “friends” Simon Doyle (Hammer) and Linnet Ridgeway (Gadot).

Throughout the movie, the two are being “stalked” by Simon’s first fiancée, Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey). And her threats against their marriage forces the honeymoon celebration for Simon and Linnet to move to a boat trip down the Nile with their group of friends.

For something that has “death” in the title, the movie sure does take its time setting up so much of these characters, until there is just death on death on death all thrown together in a quick set of scenes. The story is a classic Christie tale, and while Orient Express spent the majority of the movie on solving the murder, Death on the Nile shows us how quickly Poirot can lose control of his investigation while he comes to his conclusion.

A big portion of the story does follow Poirot’s friend Bouc, who Bateman brings to life with beautiful desperation as he tries to get his mother’s approval to marry Rosalie (Wright). He doesn’t particularly care about the drama surrounding this boat trip; he just wants to marry her and find a way for them to be happy. And Bateman’s performance brings you into Bouc’s love story and makes you interested in his love and affection for Rosalie and her story of working for her aunt, singer Salome (Sophie Okonedo).

What’s so unfortunate about this movie is that it is marred by its own cast, because the movie itself is a fascinating adaptation of Christie’s work. It’s a visually beautiful film in the way that Kenneth Branagh often brings to his work, and he clearly cares so deeply about Poirot as a character, and it shows in both Murder on the Orient Express and now this.

There are also incredible performances the members of the cast who have unfortunately been overshadowed by the actions of others: Rose Leslie as Linnet’s maid Louise, Russell Brand in a nearly unrecognizable role as Dr. Ludwig Windlesham (who has been in love with Linnet for years), and Ali Fazal as Andrew Katchadourian.

Branagh knows how to tell a mystery, and hopefully this won’t be his last turn as Poirot. Hopefully he can assemble a cast that won’t tarnish the whole thing before it even gets started.

(image: 20th Century Fox)

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast.