“Death on the Nile” is finally here, more than two years after the originally scheduled release date.

The film was originally scheduled for release in December 2019 postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, in early 2021, there were allegations of sexual abuse against cast member Armi Hamer (“Call me by your first name”), which again postponed the release. The allegations, which Hamer denied, stemmed from a leak of screenshots of direct messages allegedly sent to him, in which he detailed strange sexual fantasies related to violence, BDSM and cannibalism. After that, Hamer gave up many future roles in movies. Somewhat controversially, Disney decided not to remake the scene in “Death of the Nile” with the actor – due to the inability to reunite all the actors in the film – and here we are.

As is often the case today, the star power of the film is one of its main features. The film “Death on the Nile”, based on the novel by Agatha Christie, features Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”) as Lynette Ridgeway-Doyle, rich and attractive newlywed wife of Simon Doyle as Hamer. They are on a lavish honeymoon in Egypt accompanied by an entourage of guests, one way or another related to Lynette, in a stellar cast that includes Leticia Wright (“Black Panther”), Rose Leslie (“Game of Thrones”). ), Russell Brand (“Despicable Me”), Emma Mackie (“Sex Education”) and Kenneth Bran (“Tenet”) – who is also the director of the film – as the cult private detective Hercule Poirot.

The newlyweds and their guests board the cruise liner SS Karnak and sail on the Nile River, admiring the sights, showering with balloons, champagne and all sorts of concessions. That is, until the tragedy happened: the murder, as the title of the film helpfully suggests. From there, suspicions arise, tensions increase and motivations are unraveled when Poirot tries to identify the killer.

Like Karnak, “Death on the Nile” stretches at an equal pace. Here and there he feeds us with his own pieces, methodically laying the groundwork for what may (or may not) create the future. He knows what he’s doing, and he knows we know what he’s doing – inserting a specific object here, slicing a particular character’s reaction there – but, nonetheless, he manages to keep us guessing. Just when things start to stop, or Poirot’s interrogations become tedious, a new twist or discovery brings us back into the thick of things. And the discoveries are mostly made correctly – Poirot Brana skillfully explains everyone with balance, accuracy and a certain charisma that breathes life into his otherwise reasoned personality.

The camera is constantly running and moving, creating a kinetic banquet for the eyes that is beautifully displayed on 70mm film. However, extensive computer-generated images of the Egyptian landscape (CGI) are glossy and digested, undermining the elegance of intricately designed interior sets. The widespread use of the green screen, which is now a staple of almost every commercially oriented, high-budget Hollywood thriller, breaks realism, not improves it. This is especially noticeable in the early scene, when Poirot first encounters his old friend Buk (Tom Bateman, “Cold Chase”) on the steps of one of the obviously artificial pyramids of Giza.

The tonal coup of the film is revealed in the same scene. “Of all the pyramids around the world you must approach mine!” Beech exclaims Poirot, a clear homage to the famous phrase in the classic 1942 film “Casablanca” (interestingly, “Death on the Nile” occurs five years ago). Buk’s statement serves as nothing more than a light joke aimed at acquainting the audience – a clear departure from the current source material, “Death on the Nile” cements itself as a clearly modern film, using similar jokes and remarks. To that end, she seems to be aware of her humor. However, there are other moments that inadvertently provoke laughter, often underlined by the idea of ​​love: too melodramatic a reaction, a mysterious line feed or a borderline ridiculous chain of events that makes you think. of course they did it on purpose!

Did they do it or not? This is the line that “Death on the Nile” continuously crosses as it goes. Either way, the film isn’t quite able to reconcile its comedic prints with the thematic weight it tries to hold. He makes half-hearted attempts to be a self-made film, again and again raising the idea of ​​love, even going so far that his characters openly talk about it. Despite this, “Death on the Nile” has no thematic resonance – it seems to have forgotten the golden rule of “show, do not tell.”

A film with significant flaws, but far from thoughtless viewing, “Death on the Nile” is a pleasant party, if you just do not think about it too much and allow yourself to go with the flow (without a pun).

Daily Arts staff member Adrian Hui can be reached at adrihui@umich.edu.

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