Archive for the Crime Category

Emily the Criminal

Posted in Crime, Drama, Thriller with tags on January 6, 2023 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Emily Benetto is facing a mountain of crippling debt from student loans. She also has a felony conviction, preventing her from getting a regular job. The details are sketchy. We hear it’s from an assault. She mentions she fought a lot with an ex-boyfriend. That ambiguity helps us side with her. Longtime best friend Liz (Megalyn Echikunwoke) pledges to get Emily an interview at a prestigious ad agency, but those promises keep going unfulfilled. Emily falls more easily into a credit card scam where she poses as a “dummy shopper.” We’re introduced to a nefarious Los Angeles underworld that includes a mentor named Youcef Haddad (Theo Rossi).

As the title suggests, Emily the Criminal is a character study — at least initially — about a crook. Not one that is born and raised but recently brought about by her plight. She is a scrappy young woman, defined by her current situation. Emily’s ability to adapt is impressive. As her circumstances become ever more dangerous, she meets them head-on. The situations continue to escalate, but so does she. She refuses to be a victim. Despite her less-than-savory behavior, she isn’t a figure that incurs our hatred. Although she doesn’t incur respect, either.

Aubrey Plaza (Safety Not Guaranteed, Ingrid Goes West) is fascinating as the main protagonist. The individual occupies this gray area where we know her actions are wrong on an intellectual level, but we want her to succeed from an emotional standpoint. To inspire that nuance of feeling is rare. The actress continues to make an impression. When this drama became available on Netflix on December 7, it promptly entered the Top 10. At the same time, she was portraying Harper Spiller, a straitlaced lawyer in a marriage fraught with tension, in the vacation drama The White Lotus on HBO Max.

Emily the Criminal is also a competent thriller. Any discussion of the most promising directorial debuts of 2022 would include John Patton Ford. He has fashioned a compelling tale. In detailing her journey, Emily will meet a cadre of various individuals. It will get intense. Her self-defense weapons expand from pepper spray to a taser to a box cutter. The last of which is considerably more lethal. There is a dubious lack of guns, however. Some of the interactions could have gone much worse. Take a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief before enjoying this view of LA. Aubrey Plaza keeps us enrapt. The actress maintains a blank stare, a face inexplicably conveying both fear and indifference to everything around her. That keeps us a bit detached, too, but we still feel compassion. Ford’s screenplay pleads for understanding. This is an unvarnished portrait of humanity. It may not be inspiring, but it is real.

01-04-23

Emily the Criminal is on Netflix (since December 7). It originally premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival on January 24 and was released to theaters on August 12.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Posted in Comedy, Crime, Drama, Mystery with tags on December 27, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An effective whodunnit needs a good setup, and Glass Onion — the sequel to the 2019 mystery film Knives Out — intelligently delivers. Let’s start with the title, which was inspired by the third track on the 1968 double album The Beatles (aka The White Album). The song was a self-referential composition that toyed with fans who sought to decipher hidden meanings in the Fab Four’s work. “Well, here’s another clue for you all….” John Lennon sang. It appropriately plays over the end credits.

In this account, the “Glass Onion” is the bar where five close friends hang out and meet future billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). These associates called themselves the disruptors. The inception of Miles’ successful Manhattan tech company, Alpha, had its humble origins at this dive. In the present day, Miles is hosting a murder mystery party at his estate on a private Greek island. A giant translucent sphere sits atop his compound. He invites his long-time pals for a friendly get-together. These innovators include Alpha head scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), supermodel turned fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson ), Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), men’s rights streamer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), and co-founder and ousted Alpha CEO Cassandra “Andi” Brand (Janelle Monáe). Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) also has an invitation and joins the group along with Birdie’s assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick) and Duke’s girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline).

Director Rian Johnson has crafted a clever puzzle for people who love to solve mysteries. A crackerjack screenplay punctuates the chronicle. Johnson shrewdly drops critical information in seemingly casual dialogue. The main story culminates about halfway through after Benoit Blanc easily solves the challenge of the fake murder. However, it isn’t long before the game becomes deadly, and one of their own is killed for real. The chronicle then flashes back and gives us the background leading up to their little soiree. It is here that the salient particulars of the plot unfold. The interconnected details of the past of these various individuals are exposed. Their sordid histories reveal that everyone has a motive.

Glass Onion is a sparkling delight that surpasses its predecessor. Ok, so the denouement may not be a jaw-dropping shocker, and Benoit Blanc’s presence is reduced to focus more on other characters. It’s an intricately assembled ensemble piece of amusing personalities. Every actor gets to shine, albeit some more brightly than others—lots of witty gags. The funniest moment is a realization that Kate Hudson’s character makes regarding someone’s identity after that fact had been well established. However, Janelle Monáe gets the juiciest part. She suitably shines in her role. The surroundings are opulent, the cast is fun, and the jokes are funny, Glass Onion provides layers and layers of fun.

11-29-22

The Good Nurse

Posted in Biography, Crime, Drama with tags on November 23, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The good nurse is Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain), a single mother working in the intensive care unit of a hospital. But the reason this feature exists is because of a bad nurse. The depiction is based on the real-life tale of Charles Cullen (Eddie Redmayne), who worked at ten healthcare facilities from 1988 to 2003. A series of mysterious deaths followed him. It turns out he was a serial killer who would later plead guilty to 29 murders. However, some investigators believe that number to be in the hundreds.

This saga recounts the developments that eventually led to his capture. In retrospect, it’s bizarre that Charles and Amy started as good friends. In this dramatization, they meet in 2002 at Parkfield Memorial Hospital. Charles is an experienced RN hired to help Amy work the night shifts. She confides in him, and he gives her emotional support. Things get strange when an elderly patient named Ana Martinez (Judith Delgado) unexpectedly dies under questionable circumstances. Amy and Charles were attending to her. The health center’s administrative board contacts the state police. When detectives Danny Baldwin (Nnamdi Asomugha) and Tim Braun (Noah Emmerich) show up to investigate, hospital board risk manager Linda Garran (Kim Dickens) downplays the severity of the situation. Even Amy defends Charles …at first.

These true crime stories are often more shocking than fiction because they genuinely happened. That’s the part that shook me. It’s an unsettling portrait of a very disturbed man. Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne elevate the account with straightforward performances. Although what makes a monster like Charles Cullen tick remains an enigma. This is adapted from the 2014 book The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder by Charles Graeber. There’s a lot more to this tragedy. If you crave details after watching this, there’s a documentary: Capturing the Killer Nurse (also on Netflix). It gives more information, particularly on a U.S. healthcare system that allowed these crimes to continue for so long. It likewise highlights that Amy was instrumental in getting the evidence needed to put this murderer behind bars. The undeniable fact in both movies: Amy Loughren is a hero.

11-15-22

Orphan: First Kill

Posted in Crime, Drama, Horror with tags on August 25, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

In 2009, Orphan was the umpteenth offshoot of The Bad Seed. That 1956 movie started the “evil child genre,” which would inspire classics like Village of the DamnedRosemary’s BabyThe Exorcist, and The Omen.   Orphan didn’t exactly set the box office on fire, so it certainly wasn’t something I thought would ever garner a sequel. I suspect it was largely forgotten save for a cult following until now. Despite its connection to the earlier installment, Orphan: First Kill is a standalone account. Except for the titular soul, none of the individuals from Orphan appear in this chronicle. It’s also a prequel, so I’d suggest that you’d best start with this chapter if you haven’t seen the first. In fact, do yourself a favor and skip the inferior 2009 film altogether. Even the critical and audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes support my opinion.

Orphan First Kill cleverly retrofits the foundation of the previous saga and surpasses the original. In this intro, Leena Klammer is a 33-year-old woman with a rare degenerative hormone disorder that causes dwarfism. The woman looks like a 9-year-old child. Leena is also a violent patient imprisoned in an Estonian mental asylum who has no conscience and lacks remorse. Leena escapes from the facility and tricks an unsuspecting family into thinking she is their long-lost daughter Esther Albright, who went missing four years prior. Mom Tricia (Julia Stiles), Dad Allen (Rossif Sutherland), and their teen son Gunnar (Matthew Finlan) welcome her home, although skepticism arises.

For slightly over half of this brisk 99-minute movie, there is a predictability to every development that hampered my enthusiasm. David Coggeshall’s screenplay is based on a story by Alex Mace and David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick. Initially, I mockingly enjoyed anticipating the likely outcomes. “Esther is hiding in that room,” I thought when newly arrived art therapy instructor Anna (Gwendolyn Collins) is locked in a confined space to keep her safe from the murderous Leena. “Now she’s in the trunk!” when Anna later drives away. It goes on and on like this. Then something happens at the 54-minute mark (I hit pause to verify) that is so unforeseeable that I stared at the screen in shock. It was as if the screenplay slapped me in the face and declared, “Just kidding! This is the real story.” From that point on, I was invested.

The production mines an unsettling milieu. Cinematographer Karim Hussain (Possessor) admirably contributes to the eerie mood. The engineers creatively disguise 25-year-old actress Isabel Fuhrman to make her appear more believable as the child she’s pretending to be. Forced perspective and body doubles (Kennedy Irwin and Sadie Lee) assist in the ruse. Isabelle Fuhrman and Julia Stiles are talented actors. They elevate their characters with compelling performances. Sadly the climax ultimately falls victim to more hackneyed convention. Still, the middle section redeems this entertaining thriller.

08-23-22

Ambulance 

Posted in Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller with tags on June 15, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

The last song I ever expected to hear in one of Michael Bay’s adrenaline-pumping testosterone-fueled odes to machismo was “Sailing” by Christopher Cross. The 1980 yacht rock classic incongruously pops up when adoptive brothers Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) decide to sing it (badly) in a calming moment while driving an ambulance. But these guys aren’t paramedics. No, they’re bank robbers. They’ve hijacked the eponymous vehicle after a heist where they stole $32 million dollars. Oh, and they’ve taken two hostages. They’re transporting a comatose police officer (Jackson White) that Will shot twice. His slowly bleeding state promotes a Blue Lives Matter subplot. There’s also a gorgeous EMT named Cam Thompson (Eiza González). She is the best at what she does in the city of LA. Cam flaunts the beauty of Megan Fox and exudes confidence like Michelle Rodriguez.

Ambulance is essentially one overlong chaotic, cacophonous car chase through the streets of Los Angeles. It’s also the latest blast-a-thon from a director who built his reputation on the genre. When individuals aren’t screaming at each other at the top of their lungs, there’s a car collision with a corresponding explosion to drown out the din of their inane conversation. It’s hilariously overwrought. However, there’s a little room for some characterization in Chris Fedak’s script. Gyllenhaal is a crazy, wide-eyed gun-toting career criminal that behaves as if he solely subsists on a diet of Red Bull and speed. Conversely, Abdul-Mateen’s Will is the level-headed one who foolishly turns to his unhinged brother Danny when his cancer-stricken wife Amy (Moses Ingram) needs money for surgery. Their father was an infamous bank robber too, so apparently, it runs in the family.

Ambulance is yet another indulgent American remake based on a foreign film. Jake Gyllenhaal is fond of starring in English-language reproductions of Danish hits. He was also in The Guilty (2021) and Brothers (2009). Ambulance was an efficient 80-minute picture from Denmark in 2005. In the hands of Michael Bay, it’s a loud distended 136-minute headache. Given the comparatively low $40-million-budget, this production is practically an indie for the director of the Transformers pictures. For example, The Last Knight cost $239 million. Nevertheless, Bay applies that same noisy aesthetic to this character-driven drama. It can be exciting. The chronicle features a breakneck pace and such sheer volume that you might be inclined to forgive the absurdity. However, at over two hours, the dissonance wears out its welcome. There were enough shaky-cam and dizzying drone shots in Roberto De Angelis’ cinematography that had me wanting to call an ambulance about halfway through.

Ambulance is currently streaming on Peacock and available to rent on DVD and Blu-ray.

06-14-22

The Outfit

Posted in Crime, Drama, Mystery with tags on May 12, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I love a clever title with a double meaning. The Outfit is about an English tailor named Leonard Burling (Mark Rylance) who sews suits, but it also concerns the Chicago Outfit, an organized crime syndicate. The story details one fateful night in the tailor’s life. Okay, so he’s technically a “cutter” because Leonard used to work in London’s Savile Row. It’s 1956 and he runs a neighborhood shop in Chicago controlled by Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale), an Irish Mob boss. Roy’s son Ritchie (Dylan O’Brien) and chief enforcer Francis (Johnny Flynn) are Leonard’s best customers but they also use his business as a place to hide dirty money. Oh and his receptionist Mable (Zoey Deutch) also happens to be Ritchie’s girlfriend.

The drama has all the trapping of the stage. The story is set in a single location. A twisty sequence of developments unfolds as the tailor attempts to stay alive by manipulating people with his words. The low-key vibe of the account takes a while to get going. However, things do get more complicated and even bloody. Before the night is over, not everyone will still be alive. A series of discussions propel the plot. Although the climax ultimately relies on a sequence of several actions. The ending could use a little — pardon the pun — tailoring.

The Outfit is an entertaining tale from screenwriter Graham Moore who won an Oscar for The Imitation Game. The dialogue is crisp and witty. A sample exchange:

Richie: [My father was] always stating, “A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life kid”
Leonard: Wilde
Richie: F***ing crazy, right?
Leonard: No, that’s a quote: Oscar Wilde

Screenwriter Graham Moore is making his directorial debut. He expertly builds tension from a unique situation. There’s a rat somewhere in Roy Boyle’s organization and he’s aiming to find out who it is. The centerpiece is a stellar performance from Mark Rylance. He’s a cagey individual but his unassuming nature belies a shrewd personality. A notable alumnus of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, his talent here recalls the work of another graduate of the prestigious school, Anthony Hopkins. I can’t give an actor higher praise than that. Mark Rylance elevates this well-written theater piece into a captivating pressure cooker drama.

05-06-22

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Posted in Action, Comedy, Crime with tags on April 28, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

It’s the role he was literally born to play. Nicolas Cage is Nicolas Cage — or at least a heightened version of his frenzied persona. Sometimes a high concept is enough. When The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent fully acknowledges its meta pretense, the movie is a hoot. However, a pedestrian action-comedy ultimately emerges from that facade of creative self-awareness. It’s enjoyable too, but not as clever as the idea of the actor playing himself as a movie star.

The conceit has Nick currently mulling over his career. The performer hasn’t had a good part in a while now and he is running out of money. He has a tense relationship with both his ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) and their daughter Addy (Lily Sheen). Occasionally he argues with a younger even more boisterous interpretation of himself called Nicky. Sorry, but the efficacy of de-aging technology using CGI is still highly questionable. After being passed over for a coveted film role, he decides he will retire from acting. But first, he’s going to accept a mysterious offer of $1 million to attend the birthday party of a billionaire playboy named Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal). Cage would be the guest of honor. The celebration is being held on the island of Mallorca, off the coast of mainland Spain.

UWOMT is a lot of things. When the script is focused on being a Hollywood satire, it’s a sly comment on the entertainer’s own acting choices and the current state of filmmaking. That wit is peppered throughout the film and I relished those moments. Cage has made a lot of movies. I expected Leaving Las Vegas and Face/Off references. The fact that even Guarding Tess and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin get a mention too was an amusing surprise. The screenplay co-written by director Tom Gormican with Kevin Etten is that thorough.

The heart beating underneath this spoof is a pleasant but formulaic action-comedy. Actor Pedro Pascal is indeed lovable as the wealthy super-fan. His admiration for Cage has a warmth that radiates sincerity. Javi Gutierrez also happens to be an international criminal. The true nature of his character is an ongoing concern for Nick. Javi may or may not have kidnapped the daughter of a presidential candidate. At one point, there’s a memorable reveal of a secret room in Javi’s compound that could’ve gone any number of ways. No spoilers here. I’ll only offer that the buddy aspects are superior to the criminal elements. The two bond over a certain beloved family movie. The pair have ample chemistry together to make this a winner. Now I think I’ll go rewatch Paddington 2.

04-26-22

Windfall

Posted in Crime, Drama, Thriller with tags on March 21, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Windfall has been boldly touted as a Hitchcockian thriller. If I had a $1 for every movie that failed to live up to that high bar…I’d probably have at least $50. Hey, I’m trying to be realistic, but it happens a lot. At this point, I regard the appellation as a red flag for something that aspires to Alfred’s brilliance but isn’t as thoughtful. This film reinforces those feelings.

The drama concerns a burglar (Jason Segel) who breaks into the luxurious vacation home of a wealthy CEO (Jesse Plemons) who heads a tech company. Things don’t go as planned when the CEO and his wife (Lily Collins) happen to coincidentally show up at that moment and surprise the would-be prowler. I didn’t know it at the time, but the parts are listed as CEO, wife, and Nobody (for the robber) in the credits. That perfunctory attitude pervades the account. There are so many directions the writers could have taken. They chose the most mundane.

The narrative is constructed around a boring discussion set within a scenic but fixed locale. We discover the husband and wife are quite blasé about the robbery. They unexpectedly offer to help the thief out so he can be on his way. There’s one amusing interaction where the couple encourages the robber to negotiate his take up to half a million dollars. The cost of living has skyrocketed they contend. However a sum that large will require a day to arrive. Over the next 24 hours, the three participants will have a tedious conversation. We learn that the couple isn’t happily married. The intruder seems benign while the tech mogul grows more arrogant and obnoxious. That’s about the extent of it. There’s not much more to be discovered than that. A gardener shows up, but that doesn’t improve the story.

Director Charlie McDowell has worked with screenwriters Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker before. The One I Love had a similar single location setting, but that story had a supernatural component. At least it kept things interesting. The high point here occurs when the three of them are watching TV. We witness a scene from the 80s western comedy Three Amigos! That brief snippet is more compelling than anything in this picture. Windfall is only 92 minutes but I couldn’t wait for it to be over. (So I could watch Three Amigos!)

03-18-22

The Batman

Posted in Action, Crime, Drama, Superhero, Thriller with tags on March 7, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Did we really need another Batman movie? At this point, the question is akin to asking whether we want more James Bond flicks, an additional performance of A Christmas Carol, or a new production of Hamlet. For any film lover, the answer will forever be yes. The obligation is to make it good and to bring something fresh to the table.

Every new incarnation of Batman seems to top the previous one in darkness and gloom. Tim Burton’s 1989 vision was a game-changer compared with the lighthearted TV show of the 1960s. However, by the time Joel Schumacher had directed parts 3 and 4, the 1990s series had devolved into a zany cartoon. Christopher Nolan recalibrated with The Dark Knight trilogy. It’s the definitive version as far as I’m concerned. That spirit inspired the DC Extended Universe franchise with Ben Affleck. The R-rated spin-off Joker upped the ante considerably and now we’ve got this reboot in 2022.

The title points to a back-to-basics approach. Bruce Wayne is the Batman, a vigilante uncovering corruption in Gotham City. He has a personal vendetta against the kind of criminals that took his parents when he was 10. Director Matt Reeves — who wrote the screenplay with Peter Craig — wisely spares us the umpteenth dramatization of that murder. A slow-motion shot of Martha’s pearl necklace falling apart is burned into my mind. But I digress. The caped crusader is conflicted by the ethics of vengeance. He has the uneasy support of Lieutenant “not quite Commissioner” Gordon (Jeffrey Wright). In Batman’s quest to bring criminals to justice he meets The Riddler (Paul Dano). The arch-villain has been singling out corrupt officials suggesting a connection between them and the criminal underworld. The web of corruption runs deep. It may even impugn the hallowed legacy of the Wayne family.

The Batman is yet another melancholy depiction of the superhero, but the narrative does distinguish itself from the others. The biggest difference is that this interpretation leans very heavily into the idea that Bruce Wayne is first and foremost a detective. Lest we forget, DC stands for Detective Comics after all. The story is set after he’s been fighting crime for two years. The Riddler is a sadistic serial killer in this iteration. Think of Batman as Sherlock Holmes dropped into the thriller Seven or even a Saw movie. The Riddler places his victims in these contraptions that recall the devices from that horror franchise. He taunts the Dark Knight with a string of riddles. Each one conveyed in a greeting card. Batman’s pursuit of justice will lead him to an organized crime conspiracy in Gotham city and a variety of different characters.

The saga incorporates a terrific cast. This includes a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and a mobster played by an unrecognizable Colin Farrell. Oswald Cobblepot is his name but you might know him better as The Penguin. Of course, the most important person is Robert Pattison as the main character. He’s officially the 10th person to portray Batman in a live-action picture. Pattinson manages to offer a unique take on his personality. Bruce Wayne is significantly more troubled with what he is doing. The most depressed and broken interpretation of the character we’ve seen thus far. He’s also younger than the most iconic portrayals. Pattinson is physically slight, less stocky. His emo haircut says he’s sensitive and even sports eyeliner when he wears the cowl. “They think I’m hiding in the shadows, but I am the shadows,” he whispers. This Batman doesn’t growl like his predecessors.

The Batman is a lot of things. Simply consider the definite article before the name. The title is a declaration that’s a little presumptuous right off the bat, no pun intended. The film is also too long…nearly three hours. The convoluted tale features the labyrinthian twists and turns of an investigation. Although to its credit, it doesn’t drag. But most of all it’s dark. I’m talking pitch black. The atmosphere is not an innovation. We’ve seen this somber rendition before. It’s so bleak but it does affect the compelling mood of a neo-noir. Director Matt Reeves stages the action with such visual flair underscored by the stunning cinematography of Greig Fraser (Lion, Dune). One stylish scene with Selina Kyle takes place in a sordid private club amidst the flashing strobe lights. The movie feels cinematic. Although it may not top Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, there’s still much to admire. That’s enough for a recommendation.

03-03-22

Death on the Nile

Posted in Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller with tags on February 15, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Director Kenneth Branagh is having a moment. On February 8th, Belfast was nominated for an impressive 7 Oscars — including Best Picture. The celebrated filmmaker has followed up his movie with the more box office-friendly Death on the Nile. It was the #1 movie in theaters this weekend.

The mystery is of course based on the 1937 novel by Agatha Christie. Kenneth Branagh is not only the director and producer, but he also reprises his role as detective Hercule Poirot. It’s a sequel of sorts to his remake of Murder on the Orient Express, a monetarily successful adaption that came out in 2017. I wasn’t a fan, but I’m happy to report this one is significantly better.

All aboard the S. S. Karnak! This trip down the river Nile is an old-fashioned throwback — in a good way. Where Orient felt tired and stuffy, this is lighthearted and fun. Screenwriter Michael Green (Logan) even gives us a bit of a backstory of Hercule Poirot and why he has that immense mustache. The collection of stars is enjoyable to watch. In any large ensemble, the ability to stand out can be a challenge. Gal Gadot is perhaps the most memorable as a wealthy English heiress but Sophie Okonedo makes an impression as an American Jazz singer. Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Emma Mackey, Ali Faza, Dawn French, and Jennifer Saunders are among the other actors that show up. Note: It would be insipid to list the entire cast so the omission of any actor should not be viewed as a deliberate choice.

This interpretation is the kind of fluffy diversion I enjoy while watching but completely forget about days later. The thing I do remember most is how much CGI is used to make it look like they’re in Egypt. It’s quite obvious this wasn’t filmed on location. Credit goes to VFX Supervisor George Murphy and his team who utilize a London soundstage and an “extravagant” dependence on green screen. That does take away from the authenticity of the experience. The 1978 version of Death on the Nile with Peter Ustinov WAS a production that was famously shot in Egypt. This revision doesn’t top its glorious predecessor for style or opulence. Let’s face it, that’s a major component of these Agatha Christie adaptions. I’ll concede the story moves briskly, however. The chronicle is not a chore to sit through. Thankfully this is just slightly over two hours. In an era where movies hew closer to three hours than two, that’s a welcome surprise. It’s nothing to die for, but still a solid piece of entertainment.

02-10-22