Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 11, 2021)
In 1989, a British TV series called Poirot launched. Based on the works of Agatha Christie, it cast David Suchet as the lead, famed detective Hercule Poirot.
Though the show only accumulated 70 episodes, it spanned a whopping 24 years, as it didnít conclude until 2013. From Season Nine, we get a 2004 feature-length episode called Death On the Nile
As Poirot vacations in Egypt, he meets British heiress Linnet Ridgeway (Emily Blunt). There on her honeymoon, Linnet asks Poirot to help her deal with Jacqueline De Bellefort (Emma Malin), a former friend turned stalker.
Linnetís new husband Simon Doyle (JJ Field) used to date Jacqueline. She believes Linnet stole Simon from her, and she craves revenge.
Poirot declines to deal with this spat, and all four end up on the same cruise along the Nile River. When a murder occurs, Poirot must get to the bottom of it and determine if the issues related to Linnetís situation impacted the crime.
Unquestionably Acorn put out this 2004 Nile on Blu-ray in fall 2020 to capitalize on the publicity connected to a big-screen version of the Agatha Christie story. The latter acted as a sequel to 2017ís Murder On the Orient Express and planned to hit theaters early October 2020, only a couple weeks after this discís release.
Alas, the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the theatrical run of the new Nile, so this 2004 version couldnít capitalize on the natural promotional value. In terms of viewing, that might end up as a positive, since we can more easily separate the two versions.
Iíll have to wait until fall 2021 to rate the new big-screen Nile - hopefully. So many movies have gotten so many delays that I take nothing for granted.
Until then, this 2004 edition offers a good alternative, and it sets the bar reasonably high for the new cinematic adaptation. While not the most thrilling murder mystery Iíve seen, the 2004 Nile becomes an enjoyable tale.
Donít expect the titular slaying to occur too quickly, though, as nearly half of Nile passes before the murder takes place. This doesnít create as much impatience as one might expect, though, for the film uses that time to explore its characters.
And Nile gets into the various roles nicely. It develops them in a compelling way and sets up each one as a potential suspect, just like a story such as this should.
Once the crime takes place, the story kicks into a higher gear and becomes a lively romp. We careen from one possible killer to another with gleeful abandon, and the surprises come at us in a dynamic manner.
A good cast helps, and itís intriguing to see a very young Blunt. One of her first roles, Bluntís American accent doesnít work, but I suspect thatís at least partially intentional, as this not-convincing American vocal pattern fits the slightly campy attitude on display.
Truthfully, Iím reluctant to refer to Nile as campy, for that implies a more comedic and silly impression than what we get. Perhaps ďarchĒ becomes a better term, as the film doesnít take itself tremendously seriously, but it also doesnít turn into a goofy romp either.
However one wants to describe it, Nile presents a quality murder mystery. We find a well-executed and brisk drama here.