As the sequel to Murder on the Orient Express (2017), Death on the Nile promises an equally stylish and compelling murder mystery that is once again backed by an A-list cast. Directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh once more, aside from a few familiar faces, he is supported by a new cast including Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Emma Mackey, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Rose Leslie, and Letitia Wright. While there were certainly aspects of this sequel that I enjoyed more than the first, I did find this movie to feel overall more predictable and easy to unravel.

[This review will contain spoilers; please read at your own discretion]

I was happy to see Branagh front and center again as Hercule Poirot and this time in Death on the Nile, we got to see a little more backstory and a little more emotional depth from his character. They’ve created Poirot to be a complex character with a complicated history, so I wished they committed more into revealing his personality and origins. Apparently there is a third film in the works so hopefully we’ll be able to learn more about him soon. But with the same flamboyant personality and strange taste, Branagh nailed the role as he already has and really solidified Poirot as the star of this franchise.

As for the rest of the cast, I have to be honest and say I was far more impressed by the performances in Murder on the Orient Express (2017). While Mackey put on a very convincing display as Jackie, a manic love-crossed murderer, the rest of the cast felt really lacking. As the two leads, I expected far more out of Gadot and Hammer. While Gadot was unable to provide the emotional range necessary to make her character more than a pretty rich face, Hammer just felt outright cringey with his poor accent and questionable performance as a bereaving husband. Because the movie centers around Linnet (Gadot) and Simon’s (Hammer) sudden love at first sight, it was absolutely essential that they had an electrifying chemistry that made their marriage believable. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t see it.

In terms of the plot, Death on the Nile follows the usual outline: introduction of all the characters, creating some tension, sudden occurrence of the murder, and all leading to the eventual reveal. Similar to the previous film, the beginning felt rather long and some of the scenes felt unnecessary to the overall story. It took a lot longer for this movie to pick up the pace, but once it was there, I found myself engaged in the mystery again. The movie did a good job at building tension towards the climax and I liked that there was this feeling of a growing urgency. I personally felt the execution of the crime and storytelling was a bit better in this movie compared to the first, but as I mentioned earlier, it did feel a lot more predictable.

I just want to take a quick moment to share that my boyfriend and I managed to fully uncover the mystery way before it was revealed at the end. *Bows*. With a lot more transparent clues and the whole “we do crazy things for love” theme trailing the entire movie, it was easy for us to decipher that Simon and Jackie teamed up to steal Linnet’s riches. The most obvious of clues was the emphasis on Bouc’s mother losing her red paint (fake blood, c’mon) and I also guessed that Simon drugged Poirot’s champagne (he looked so obviously suspicious there). Even though I was able to predict the ending, I still found this reveal to be very satisfying.

The problem was though, that the film failed to explain why the couple committed the crime in the first place – all we got from Jackie was a “Simon needs things”. Come on, that has to be the poorest explanation ever. Couldn’t we have gotten a more thrilling motive that sprouted from anger or vengeance? I feel that Death on the Nile struggled to execute a solid final landing and rushed the conclusion so that certain reveals weren’t well explained. Like how did Poirot know Cousin Andrew pushed the boulder in the tome?

If there’s one very surprising moment from this movie, it’d have to be Bouc’s death. While I did manage to piece together that he stole Linnet’s necklace to support his life with Rosalie, it was still a shocking turn of events that was only magnified when it ended in his death. I always saw Bouc as the Watson to Poirot’s Holmes, so I was truly sad to see he died in this movie. It was definitely a great added twist though so I’ll give them that.

With grand visuals and a deadly love at its core, Death on the Nile tried to up its stakes to create a bigger, more thrilling mystery. In ways, it did succeed because I found the story to feel a bit more cohesive and intriguing. Despite my criticisms, I still found the movie to be an enjoyable watch that kept me interested throughout its runtime. I definitely appreciated the added twists and side stories in this one that made the supporting characters feel more than just “pushed to the side” extras. Overall, I’ve decided to rate Death on the Nile the same as Murder on the Orient Express – I’m giving it a 6.5/10. I will for sure check out the third movie when it eventually releases and I’m hoping the filmmakers will learn from their mistakes, especially to create a better, more thought out conclusion.