September 16th, 2022
MOVIE: SEE HOW THEY RUN
STARRING: SAM ROCKWELL, SAOIRSE RONAN, ADRIEN BRODY, DAVID OYELOWO
DIRECTED BY: TOM GEORGE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Everybody loves a good whodunnit. With the recent success of Death on the Nile, Knives Out and the upcoming Glass Onion sequel, the revival of the genre has been at least an alternative to the ever going Superhero boom. The most recent is See How They Run, which has an all-star cast, the inspiration of the comedy Clue, the aesthetics of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, and the detective work of a man like Inspector Clouseau. Most of those combinations would produce results, and See How They Run has moments of highs, but it’s the ultimate lows that drag down what starts out as a relatively delightful mystery. There’s been a murder after a recent play in London, with many members of the cast and crew as suspects, and now it’s up to a detective and his new right-hand woman to crack the case. It’s a mixture of the good and bad of a whodunnit with the final result that will leave audiences a bit puzzled.
That puzzlement will be there because this should be a slam dunk for director Tom George and writer Mark Chappell. It begins in the West End in 1953, with the narration from movie director Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody), who is speaking to us from beyond the grave, because as he tells us, he’s already dead, but the goal is to figure out who cracked his head open. We see him at the after party of the recent production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which they hope to adapt to a movie for him to direct, but prior to his demise, we meet the long list of suspects, producer Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson), writer Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo), lead actor Richard Attenborough (Harris Dickinson), and various other cast members who might have been the murderer. The case is in the hands of Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and the newcomer Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan), who both go about an investigation differently, but must somehow work together to see if someone is brought to justice. Easier said than done when you have a room full of egos, antagonists, enemies, and two-faced characters.
What struck me in the beginning of See How They Run was how funny it was, where the performances from both Rockwell and Ronan are witty, with excellent timing with one another. George’s direction is not anything to sneer at, as it looks good, with brilliant costumes, and elaborate sets, but it’s the process of solving the mystery that is not exactly right. If we’re holding it up to recent whodunit films, such as the aforementioned Knives Out and recently Confess, Fletch, the major problem is how tedious and laborious the process becomes. Truth be told, I was ready to find out the killer halfway through, and when it was revealed it was obvious. That’s not to say there aren’t moments of levity and a joy of watching the process, the problem becomes a need for something smarter than the audience.
The other half of See How They Run also becomes a bit too meta for my own liking. George and his team tries to parallel the themes of the Christie play along with the real murder at hand, which fails to balance the seriousness of the crimes, and the comedy. The entire second half left me a bit cold and the characters that Ronan and Rockwell are playing become one note. They were desperately in need of more scenes in between their search, where the two actors create a nice rapport, with him being a bit lazy in his approach, while she meticulously covers every detail on the case. With more emotional and personal moments for their characters, we might be able to see who George wants us to root for.
It’s not all negative from See How They Run. There is much to laugh about, as Ronan is once again delightful, and stretching her legs into a comedic side that I hope to see more of. See How They Run has just enough mystery and quirky characters to take it for a spin. But audiences will ultimately want a whodunit that will thrill them more, keep them engaged, and pull them along for a great mystery. That might not be exactly what you get here but you will want to see it all in the long run.
SEE HOW THEY RUN IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS THIS FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2022.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady