Whodunit Dun Right

Death on the Nile Review—a movie that earns its twists and reveals


Courtesy of @deathonthenile on Instagram

Everyone is a suspect, a point driven home in the latest whodunit to hit theaters, and one we quite enjoyed. Released on Feb. 11, Death on the Nile is the perfect movie for the Valentine’s Day season—with a twist. Questioning the extremes one can go to in the name of love, the murder mystery revolves around a couple’s wedding. The case takes place in Egypt during said couple’s honeymoon as a shocking death derails the trip and sparks a murder mystery. 

We absolutely recommend this movie as its many shocking reveals and plot twists had us at the edge of our seats. We were second guessing the film through its two hours and seven minutes of runtime. If you haven’t yet seen the film, be warned: spoilers lie ahead. If you have seen it or just want to read the review then all aboard the SS Karnak, it’s review time. 

The movie starts with an enticing WWI flashback which introduces us to our protagonist: Hercule Poirot. Poirot is played by Kenneth Branagh, the director of this film and other projects like Thor (2011) and Murder on the Orient Express (2017). Both this movie and Murder on the Orient Express are adaptations of Agatha Christie novels. This introduction is tragic and provides a painful understanding of why our protagonist no longer loves. 

We are then transported to a London bar where we meet our protagonist present day, the original couple of Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) and Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey), as well as the woman of imminent twist, Gal Gadot’s Linnet Ridgeway.

Another fast forward brings us to Egypt, as Bouc (Tom Bateman) is introduced, and the main setting is introduced: the Nile River. A shocking reveal introduces Simon Doyle and Linnet Ridgeway as a married couple; an enticing jazzy scene of wealth and pleasure is depicted, making us long for an era we’ve never witnessed. 

A good bit into the movie, all of the main members of the party are fleshed out and developed, their red flags hinted at—just in time for the shocking murder of Linnet. A multitude of plot twists and turns take us to the finale, where Poirot reveals the details of the murders of Linnet, Bouc and the maid. 


What extremes does one go to for love? 

The film’s February release date came at the perfect time, as the theme of love is heavy—and quite pessimistic. One of our favorite quotes of the movie was, “It’s love, it’s not a game played fair, there are no rules.” 

Poirot does not love after his lover died trying to visit him during WWI, illustrating a tragic story of how the perfect person could be out there and yet it simply won’t work out. For Bouc, it’s a love he cannot have because his mother won’t allow it. For Mrs. Bowers and Marie Van Schuyler, it’s love they must keep secret. For Linnet and Simon, it’s a love that may not be real. 

Simon Doyle and Jacqueline de Bellefort may be one of the only couples actually in love, but they spend the bulk of it engaging in manipulation for the sake of money, then tragically die in each other’s arms after getting exposed for murder. The question must be asked: do they love each other, or the money? 

The film provides quite the disastrous picture of love: one that is bleak and purposeless. However, there remains a hint of hope in many of these seemingly dark stories. Although all these characters suffer and struggle for love, it invigorates them. After Bouc’s death, Poirot tells Rosalie that the happiest he saw Buoc was when he was with her. Although love ends in pain, the movie suggests it is what makes life worth living to begin with. 


How a movie earns its twists and reveals: 

At times the difference between a good and a bad film is how it works to warrant its plot twists. When you think of the best movie plot twists, they are all earned; they are worked up and developed so that while shocking, they are plausible. 

Another movie that similarly earns its plot twists is Knives Out. This film is one of the best whodunits we’ve ever watched, as all the twists and reveals make lots of sense. When Chris Evan’s character, Ransom, is revealed as the villain, it makes sense because of how he is developed. The reveal that Marta (Ana de Armas) did not actually kill anyone and that she was a good nurse makes sense and is earned by her character development. Twists that come for the sake of plot, and without the buildup they need, equate to a poorly executed story. A movie which is a victim of this poor writing is Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. The big twists like Snoke’s death, and Rey’s lack of family are not explained, set up, or earned. It is a movie which has twists just to have them, just for plot…unearned. 

We can happily say that this movie earned its twists and turns. Little things, like the dance that Simon and Linnet share before they are revealed as newly-weds, and larger surprises like the suspicious nature of Bouc when the necklace he stole was “found” (something we noticed on the second watch), helped to make all of the big twists plausible. 

As Poirot takes us through the murder story at the end of the third act, the movie’s buildup allows the payoff to feel earned, something that we highly commend. The emotion in Poirot after the death of Bouc is justified by their relationship and is developed through various scenes. Their meeting early on, the reveal that Bouc’s mother hired Poirot, and Poirot’s emotion when revealing the circumstance of Bouc’s murder. For this reason, we were so moved after every death, after every reveal and after every plot twist. 

Our only real issue with the film was the lack of real character depth given to the ensemble. Aside from the redflags and potential motives, we are given very little about who these characters are. However, when dealing with such a large cast, and only being able to give each character so much development due to the nature of the “whodunit”, we don’t mind too much.

Death on the Nile will fully encapsulate the viewer’s attention, as it did to us on multiple watches. We felt immersed in the story thanks to the excellent development and notably to the fantastic score and cinematography. The movie is very well crafted, and will surely have you entertained, surprised and thinking to yourself, “I should’ve seen that coming…” 

Score: 8.0/10