‘Death on the Nile’ is a classic murder mystery masterpiece


20th Century Studios

Movie poster of Death on the Nile

Jackie Clay, Staff Writer

The Death on the Nile was released into theaters on Feb. 11. In a take on Agatha Christie’s 1937 murder mystery novel, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is a Sherlock Holmes level detective with a famous mustache.  When a murder is committed in Poirot’s midst, he must solve the crime and catch whomever is responsible. This movie was a wonderful mix of suspense and clues that makes it a wonderful watch, but the intro to the movie was a bit long.

In this movie everyone has a motive, but not all of them can be the killer. And it is nearly impossible for the members of the honeymoon party to guess who murdered a prominent member of the party until the answer is right there for everyone to see. Then all the pieces will slip into place for the famous detective.

While on a trip to Egypt, Poirot runs into an old friend named Bouc at the and finds himself tagging along with Bouc as he travels to celebrate a newlywed couple’s honeymoon.

The couple consisted of wealthy socialite Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot) and her husband Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer). Accompanying them includes family friends, a famous performer and her niece, and some unexpected and suspicious party members. But an uninvited guest continues to appear during the happy couple’s celebrations. Jacqueline “Jackie” De Bellefort (Emma Mackey) is the ex-fiancee of Simon, who broke up with her to get married to Linnet.

After getting on a private boat and cruising down the Nile in the hopes of escaping Jackie, tragedy strikes. Someone has been murdered, and a prize necklace was stolen. Now Hercule Poirot must uncover the killer and solve the mystery while they are all on the boat together.

Everyone in the party has some sort of motive, but the main suspect has an air-tight alibi. Mr. Poirot must ask the question, who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit this crime? What about the other murders that followed? Were all of the crimes committed by the same person?

The imagery and setting is absolutely beautiful. The opening of the movie is in black and white while World War I is raging, and this is where his mustache gets its own opening origin story. That adds a whole other layer to the death and violence going on all around Poirot in his and his mustache’s origin story. But the rest of the movie in Egypt is full of bright, beautiful colors and amazing scenery, including the pyramids and pharaoh temples. The camera work does a great job at zooming out from the boat and the story to appreciate the beauty and danger of the setting.

The entire cast does a great job of playing up the characters and making it feel like someone is playing a game of Clue in real-time. Every character is given that devious side that really makes it feel like the murderer could be anyone. But the characters are given very little backstory, so the only thing the audience knows about them is a quick one-line explanation of them. The script should have given each character more explanation when they were first introduced. It is also hard to know what each character’s name is because of this introduction format.

The exposition of the movie also takes a very long time. The first 40 minutes are given to character, setting introduction and small events. It makes the first third very flat. Even though the setup was long, once the investigation began, all the information that was given felt necessary to understand the mystery.

As soon as the murder occurred, everything picks up to ten times the speed. The movie became immediately more interesting and exciting when Poirot began to solve the mystery.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoyed Knives Out, ClueMurder on the Orient Express, or any fan of a good murder mystery. This movie was intriguing and beautiful, if a bit lengthy in the introduction of the crime.