Kenneth Branagh is back, directing and starring in another Agatha Christie book-to-movie adaptation with Death on the Nile. Following 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, which Branagh also helmed and starred in, Death on the Nile will see private detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) back in action to solve the murder of a vacationer aboard the S.S. Karnak. Critics have seen the movie, and the reviews are in.
Death on the Nile features another ensemble cast. In addition to Kenneth Branagh, the murder mystery also returns Tom Bateman as Poirot’s friend Bouc, and features some big names including Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders and Letitia Wright. Let’s see what the critics are saying about Death on the Nile, starting with our own CinemaBlend review. Mike Reyes rates the film 4 stars out of 5 and says while this second Agatha Christie adaptation delves more into Poirot’s backstory, it expertly keeps the crime he’s tasked with solving.
Siddhant Adlakha of IGN rates the movie 7 out of 10, saying the first half flounders but leads to an intense and personal second half. It takes patience, Adlakha says, but it’s worth the wait.
Not all of the critics are willing to be so patient, however. Owen Gleiberman of Variety likes Death on the Nile better than Kenneth Branagh’s previous venture, but says it still feels like a relic and pales in comparison to the modern murder myster — or “Agatha Christie 2.0” — Knives Out.
That isn’t the review that compares Death on the Nile unfavorably to Knives Out, as SlashFilm’s Josh Spiegel says he’s already looking ahead to Knives Out 2. He and other critics mention that the real-world assault and rape allegations against Armie Hammer make for some awkward scenes between him and his two romantic partners. Spiegel calls the movie an “absolute misfire” and rates it a 2 out of 10.
The ensemble and pacing of the film is also knocked by David Rooney of THR, who rather than looking at the updated version of a murder mystery compares this adaptation to the 1978 version of Death on the Nile. He notes that Kenneth Branagh’s version is outshined in terms of supporting cast and writing. However, its faults aren’t bad enough that audiences unfamiliar with the previous adaptation will be bothered.
Kyle Anderson of Nerdist agrees with other critics that the film is strongest when focusing on the murder, which apparently doesn’t happen as early as in the source material.
Death on the Nile doesn’t please all the critics, and it seems like some of their critiques aren’t about the movie at all. Whether it’s the off-camera scandals of its cast or comparisons to either past adaptations or the revamped version of the whodunit genre, Death on the Nile is fighting a lot of battles before it even starts.
Death on the Nile is set to hit theaters on Friday, February 11. Check out our 2022 Movie Release Calendar to see what other films are coming soon.
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