I was kind of interested to see Kenneth Branagh’s version of DEATH ON THE NILE. I enjoyed MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it. It was “nice”.
But the reviews were not great and the Armie Hammer-ness of it made me say, “nah”. If I’m going to a theater and risk getting sick, it’s not going to be for this movie.
Now it’s on streaming, so I thought I’d check it out. It’s disappointing.
It doesn’t have much of the flair of the ORIENT EXPRESS. It goes through the motions. It feels like it should be better. But I suppose it could also be a lot worse.
Seeing Hammer play a man who threw over his fiancé in favor of a rich beauty made my skin crawl. I could not separate the man from the role.
The rest of the cast is serviceable. Branagh is ok as Hercule Poirot. Others, including Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov and David Suchet, have done it better.
The best part of the cast is Annette Benning. Russell Brand is almost unrecognizable save his signature beard. Speaking of signature facial hair. We do get an origin story for the moustache Branagh sports in these two movies. So that’s something.
The film also fails because, well… I hate to say this, but maybe Gal Gadot just isn’t that good an actress. She was good as a bit player in the Fast and Furious movies. I thought she was amazing in the first Wonder Woman movie, but maybe I was blinded by her gold bracelets and Patty Jenkins great story and directing. Now she is getting lead roles like this one and Red Notice. And in both she just can’t carry the load she’s given. She’s stiff. She needs to relax into the roles. She feels like she’s trying too hard.
Anyhow, it was good that this was released in “Dumpuary” (the time of year when bad movies are released because everyone is focused on awards season, and no one pays much attention to how bad these films are).
Will Branagh mine the Poirot canon again? Maybe. But I hope the next version is better than this.