Messing about on the river

Death On The Nile (12A, 127 Minutes)

For a self proclaimed “great detective” Hercule Poirot only seems to find work when he’s on holiday. One can only imagine his normal weekday would be quite boring, not simply for the amount of paperwork but the complaints that will be waiting for him when he gets back to the office.

For a second time, we have the great Kenneth Branagh donning the tache and director’s hat to solve another murder that has taken place on a vehicle or moving vessel. Agatha Christie must have really hated traveling.

Always camera ready Gal Gadot plays heiress Linette Ridgeway who, after marrying the penniless Simon Doyle, played here by controversial choice Armie Hammer, decides to honeymoon along the River Nile with a whole pack of family and friends, with familiar faces including French & Saunders, Russell Brand, Annette Bening, Sophie Okonedo and Rose Leslie.

Who lets family tag along on their honeymoon? Very unwise. Soon enough, and entirely predictable (this is Agaffa afterall), there is a murder and Poirot arrives to perform his usual modus operandus of locking everyone in a room and forcing secrets out of them without even a formal attempt to caution under arrest.

Let’s be blunt: on the back of making a wonderful, biographical masterpiece like Belfast, Sir Ken’s Murder on the Nile, which has been sitting on a shelf for more than two years, is incredibly weak. A distinct lack of publicity ahead of its release is hardly a coincidence when you consider the actor turned director is now up for an Oscar for the other film.

There are multiple issues present throughout this longer than necessary messing about on the river, but one that sticks out like a sharp thorn in your thumb.

Gal Gadot is not responsible for the way her character has been written. Nor is she directing, It is plainly obvious to see, however, that Wonder Woman is putting zero effort into the role. She is, quite literally, just playing herself (that’s Gal, not Wonder Woman) and it does not come across well at all. It’s embarrassing. A cringe fest almost on a par with her lockdown Imagine video.

But that’s not the worst part. The real horror show comes in the form of Hollywood’s very own Hannibal Lecter, Armie Hammer. There are some rather racy moments between the married couple, one in particular atop an Egyptian monument. Of course we, as an audience, must learn to distinguish the artist from the art, but it makes for uncomfortable viewing for sure considering the strenuously denied accusations levelled against him which only came to light after filming.

There is, however, a silver lining in the form of Emma Mackey, best known for playing Maeve in Netflix’s Sex Education. Here, she plays jealous ex lover Jacqueline De Bellefort and does so with a performance that truly transcends that of everyone around her.

Keep an eye on her. If ever there was a star in the making, Mackey fits the bill. She’s obviously taking this job seriously, which can’t be said for the rest of them. Though Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are, as always, a light relief from the melodrama.

What’s next? Poirot on a plane? Oh wait…

RATING: 2/10