Death on the Nile movie review (2022)

He’s there at the insistence of his charming, old friend Bouc (Tom Bateman, reprising his “Orient Express” role), whose wealthy, painter mother, Euphemia (an enjoyable snarky Annette Bening), has come along for the adventure. Also aboard the SS Karnak are Linnet’s lawyer/cousin Katchadourian (Ali Fazal); her ex-fiancé (Russell Brand in an interestingly understated turn); her personal maid (Rose Leslie); and her godmother with her traveling nurse. They’re played by the longtime comedy duo of Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, and you long to see what they’d do with this material if left to their own devices. The Otterbournes also have been invited to celebrate the Doyles’ nuptials since Salome was performing the night they met—and it’s a good thing, too, because Okonedo single-handedly steals this movie with her perfectly delivered zingers. Again, I want a movie about that character.

And there’s an uninvited guest who keeps showing up, first at the hotel and later on the ship: the jilted Jackie, stalking the newlyweds and causing yet another reason for everyone to hover about, eavesdropping and side-eying in various well-appointed parlors. With her wide, brown eyes, Mackey brings just the right amount of crazy to the role. But as is the case with just about everyone in “Death on the Nile,” there’s not much to her beyond a couple of character traits. Brand, Fazal, French, and Leslie get especially short shrift. And so when there’s a murder—because of course there’s a murder whenever Hercule Poirot is around—this whodunit mostly becomes a who-cares. We learn far too little about these characters, even after the detective’s strategic questioning.

Meanwhile, at the center of the movie where a passionate romance should be the driving force for thrills and suspense, there’s a giant hole shaped like Hammer and Gadot. They have absolutely no connection with each other physically or emotionally. Their timing and body language is all wrong. It’s impossible to believe these two people have fallen so intensely and spontaneously in love with each other that they’re willing to destroy an engagement (his) and a treasured friendship (hers) to be together.

We can’t properly luxuriate in the scenery, either. So much of “Death on the Nile” looks empty and artificial—a glossy, CGI-rendered version of legitimately grand and impressive sights. At times, this may as well be “Death on the Nile: The Video Game.” Given how long the film has been delayed because of the pandemic, maybe that’s what it should have been.

Now playing in theaters.

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