Title: ‘Death on the Nile’

Director: Kenneth Branagh (‘Murder on the Orient Express,’ ‘Cinderella‘)

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders and Letitia Wright

Being consumed by obsession and love can often lead to emotional chaos and irreversible consequences, no matter what social and financial circumstances people live in. That’s certainly the case for the ensemble cast of characters of the new mystery crime drama, ‘Death on the Nile,’ which is opening in theaters today, courtesy of 20th Century Studios.

The feature serves as a sequel to, and reunites the filmmakers behind, the hit 2017 mystery drama, ‘Murder on the Orient Express.’ Kenneth Branagh returned to the series to once again direct and star in the new movie. The feature was written by returning franchise scribe, Michael Green, who based the script on the 1937 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie.

‘Death on the Nile’ follows private detective Hercule Poirot’s (Branagh), whose Egyptian vacation aboard a glamorous river steamer turns into a terrifying search for a murderer when picture-perfect couple Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle (Gal Gadot) and Simon Doyle’s (Armie Hammer) idyllic honeymoon is tragically cut short. Set against an epic landscape of sweeping desert vistas and the majestic Giza pyramids, the tale of unbridled passion and incapacitating jealousy features a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travelers who all soon become suspects in the crime.

The new mystery crime ensemble film serves as a visually glamorous, character-driven sequel to ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ that enthrallingly blends together complex anti-heroes with alluring visuals. From glimpses into Poirot’s backstory that hint at his inspiration to take on the case for the newly married Doyles during their honeymoon to the elegant costumes created by Paco Delgado and JobanJit Singh, captivating production design by Jim Clay and fascinating cinematography from Haris Zambarloukos, ‘Death on the Nile’ is an immersive study into the motivations of America’s elite in the 1930s.

The new drama begins its captivating journey with a World War I-set prologue shown in black-and-white, which hints at the rest of the story’s foreboding nature. A young Poirot is shown helping save his regiment from near-certain death from their enemies. While he saves his fellow soldiers during the mission, Branagh portrays the character to be scarred – both physically and emotionally – from the experience. As a result, he shies away from any future emotional attachments, and is weary of grand declarations of true love. The now humanized, vulnerable character proves to be the perfect private detective to investigate the murder that occurs during the Doyles’ honeymoon.

BAFTA Television Award-nominated French-British actress, Emma Mackey also gives a stunning, memorable performance in her breakout movie role as Jacqueline “Jackie” de Bellefort. The character becomes jealous when Linnet, her childhood friend and classmate, marries Simon, her former fianc√©, soon after she introduces them. The actress makes Jackie – who always knows how to make an impeccable entrance, like when she shows up at the Doyles’ wedding reception uninvited in a stunning red and gold gown – a dangerous femme fatale who isn’t afraid to pursue reuniting with Simon romantically.

Poirot and Jackie’s intriguing, noteworthy character arcs throughout ‘Death on the Nile,’ which was shot at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England, are supported by Clay’s stunning recreations of the exotic locations that the story takes place in. From the magnificent Egyptian settings, including the Temple of Abu Simbel, where the characters spend time during the Doyle’s honeymoon, to the elegant interiors of the cruise ship S.S. Karnak, where most of the crime investigation takes place, the follow-up features exquisite, dignified locations that are just as important to the conflict as the characters’ actions. The locations are perfectly captured by Zambarloukas in his gorgeous widescreen compositions.

‘Death on the Nile’ is an intriguing mystery crime ensemble film serves as a visually glamorous, character-driven sequel to ‘Murder on the Orient Express.’ The emotional actions of the movie’s complex anti-heroes are set against beguiling visuals, including Delgado and Singh’s seductive costumes designs, Clay’s spellbinding production design and Zambarloukos’ immersive cinematography, which make the drama an immersive study into the motivations of America’s elite in the 1930s.

Technical: A+

Acting: A-

Story: A-

Overall: A

Scene from 20th Century Studios’ ‘Death on the Nile,’ a mystery-thriller directed by Kenneth Branagh based on Agatha Christie’s 1937 novel. Photo by Rob Youngson. ¬© 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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