Video-game movies are always a concerning subject, and with Uncharted being one of my personal favorite video games (not being a huge gamer myself), this film does translate the set pieces and globe-trotting style to the big screen, but much of the wonder is lost in translation. Tom Holland plays a younger version of Drake than seen in the games, and its his charisma and energy that elevate his take on the character, and even when his dialogue feels lacking, it’s Holland’s spirit and star power that do the heavy lifting. Mark Wahlberg shares some good chemistry with Holland, but on its own, his performance as Sully falls short. His character’s writing can’t quite decide what it wants to be, and it feels like a case of less-than-stellar casting with Wahlberg’s delivery. Sophia Ali also does a good job as Chloe, but again, it’s the script that can’t take her character in a satisfying direction. Even famous Oscar nominee Antonio Banderas has an all-in-all boring presence — as if that was even possible for him. The writing also fails to make the origin between Drake and Sully’s meeting feel unique, and ultimately the entire film suffers from being cliché. The editing feels watered down and studio-like, despite some exciting action which feels visually imaginative, but the actual CGI work looks digital and unbelievable. The exposition to explain the adventure can’t quite pull you in and the twists are easy to see from a mile away. Like I said, the scenes they’ve come up with are interesting, whether it’s journeying through ancient underground rooms looking for clues or hanging off planes while fighting bad guys, but the way it’s shot and edited makes any sense of originality or wonder and discovery feel lost. In the hands of a better director and more creative freedom and realistic-looking green screen, this could have been something special. While the action scenes are certainly watchable and bombastic, the delivery feels too fluffy and disposable, without any sort of new creative touch, and fails to differentiate itself from films from the worlds of Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider.
During the honeymoon cruise of the Doyles and their wedding party on the Nile, a murder occurs and a detective onboard, the iconic Hercule Poirot — played once again by Kenneth Branagh, who also directs –must dig through the motives of the passengers to find the killer and bring them to justice.
Death on the Nile embraces the thrilling aspects of the Whodunnit murder mystery genre, with a case that keeps you guessing. Kenneth Branagh leans more into the vain, larger-than-life portrayal of Poirot. However, the performances of some of the cast, especially Branagh and Gal Gadot, can get over-the-top and distractingly humorous, possibly unintentionally. They also try too often to give Poirot a tragic backstory, which can be appreciated but it’s far inferior to the story involving the other characters. However, Letitia Wright and Emma Mackey are standouts whose acting turns are actually able to shine. The buildup to the titular murder mystery is too long, as the title and marketing clearly tells you what kind of movie this is but takes too long to actually become that film. Once it does, however, I was actually engaged and following along as new details, motives, and alibis were presented. Though the costume design is stellar, the visuals have lots of moments of obvious green screen and CGI and the movie could’ve benefitted from a more practical look. Though it isn’t a must-watch, Death on the Nile is an improvement over its predecessor but doesn’t manage to necessarily be shocking or rewatchable — it doesn’t also help that Rian Johnson’s 2019 caper Knives Out set the bar so high for murder mysteries and that it has a sequel coming out later this year, or that Branagh just released the best film of his career, Belfast, only a few months ago. If you know what you’re in for, the ride is fun, but keep your expectations light and reasonable for an interesting and edge-of-your-seat second and third acts.