How ‘Death on the Nile’ deals with its great hammer problem

No, the glamor actor doesn’t get the same treatment as Christopher Plummer in Kenneth Branagh’s film.

[Editor’s note: This article contains spoilers for Kenneth Branagh’s “Death on the Nile.”]

When actor Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual harassment and assault by dozens of men in October 2017, the reckoning led to an unexpected professional conclusion: He had his throat cut from “All the”. Money in the World” by Ridley Scott, a film that had ended production at a time when Spacey was hit by numerous allegations. It’s the stuff of instant legend: Director Ridley Scott chose to cut Spacey and replaced him with Christopher Plummer within days of the accusations being made, there were weeks of camera footage, and sewn up all for a December release date has been scheduled.

The response has been praised, as has Plummer’s performance (he won an Oscar nod), and suddenly, there seems to be a sensible way to deal with problematic stars. , people whose scandals may be responsible for their professional projects. But while Scott and his cast and crew paved the way for such replacements, other projects haven’t kept up, possibly due to a combination of big money (the amount of money to shoot and the amount of money to shoot). Scott’s film was reportedly worth $10 million, five times the film’s budget) and the complexity of the cast cuts. of projects did not favor such shots (most of Spacey’s scenes feature him alone, although a single wide shot with the actor remains in the film, as it was too complicated to re-shoot with Plummer).

Enter: “Death on the Nile.” Kenneth Branagh’s follow-up to his hugely popular 2017 Agatha Christie adaptation “Murder on the Orient Express” seemed like a hit when it was announced just days after it premiered. Murder”. As Branagh adds more and more big stars to the cast – Gal Gadot, Annette Bening and Russell Brand, to name a few – it seems to be hailed as the same success as its predecessor. In 2018, when Branagh cast actors Armie Hammerstands out for his breakout role in “Call Me by Your Name,” which is another feather in the film’s hat.

And after that. In 2021, after weeks of rumors on social media about Hammer’s sexual activities, the actor has accused of rape by a woman identified only as Effie. In March 2021, the woman alleged that the sexual assault took place in April 2017 and during an encounter, Hammer “roughly raped” her and repeatedly banged her on the head. Wall. The actress also said that Hammer committed other “violent acts” against her without her consent. (The actor has denied that any of their interactions were consensual.)

Soon after, Hammer was dropped from a series of projects — “Shotgun Wedding,” “Billion Dollar Spy,” “Next Goal Wins,” “The Offer,” and a Broadway production of “The Minutes” — though none were planned. Which project started production.

Already available: “Death on the Nile,” was set for release on December 20, 2019, before being pushed to October 9, 2020, due to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The series was once again moved to October 23, 2020, then December 18, 2020, followed by a push to September 17, 2021. In March 2021, according to Hammer allegations, The movie is moved to the last date: February 11, 2022.

More than two years after the film ended production, Branagh’s film is finally seeing the light of day, but without any clear footage of Hammer’s character, the newlywed Simon Doyle. What happened on All the Money in the World, while instructive, is clearly something out of the ordinary, and many of the same factors make it possible for Scott to rewrite and return to the (another) sequel. again, money and mostly simple scenes) with Plummer is not possible for Branagh movies, especially in the age of COVID.

Like its predecessor, the Agatha Christie murder mystery revolves around an all-star cast — if there’s any single star in the film, it’s Branagh himself, as legendary detective Hercule Poirot — often mix and merge with each other. Our first introduction to Simon: an elaborate dance scene in a buzzing nightclub, complete with turns twirling around the floor with both current fiancée Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey) and His last wife was Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot). As the movie unfolds, the central mystery revolves around Simon and Linnet, leading up to sequence after sequence of the pair with each other and the rest of the large cast.

In short: the Plummer solution is an option not to be missed here, but at least Branagh has made a movie in which no one (not even Hammer) can rightly be said to be stealing attention. from him. Branagh and Disney got (relatively) lucky here, because the same reasons that Hammer might not have been cut (too many scenes, too complicated) are the same reasons that allowed him to be forgotten. Also of note: many of his other fellow-sarars, including Gadot and Letitia Wright, have made their own missteps in recent months, a truly “uniquely cursed” cast incomparable”).

Hammer is present in the film’s marketing materials, although often somewhat obscured. (Interestingly, at AMC Lincoln Square, where this writer saw the film, a boxed display of the film’s two costumes and a giant poster of the film’s cast came up. a bit of erasing Hammer: Someone made a dummy in front of Hammer’s image.) The movie starts without any opening cues, so no “ARMIE HAMMER” appears on the screen. big. (Damn, the movie starts with a prologue about the origin of a mustache.)

And, the capper – and a major spoiler to boot, for both Branagh’s film and the classic novel that inspired it – is the final Hammer cast here as the villain. of the movie (ah, either). And while his presence may make some viewers uncomfortable or uncomfortable, there’s a bit of a payoff towards the end of the film, when Simon is branded as a bad guy, tries to faint and is killed by his compatriot and lover. And, the scene! It may not be as final as Spacey’s cut, but it’s definitely something to see a bloody Hammer and bloody jaws pose at the end of the movie.

It could also be Hammer’s curtain call. Once charged, Hammer was fired from his job by WME, completed a lengthy stint in rehab and was the subject of a nine-month LAPD investigation. encapsulated in December. As of this writing, he has yet to appear in the media to support Branagh’s film and is also unprepared for any new projects. There is no mystery as to why.

20th Century Studios will release “Death on the Nile” in theaters on Friday, February 11.

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Olly Dawes

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