“See How They Run” immediately piqued my interest. A 50’s whodunit murder mystery in the old classic style of Agatha Christie? What could go wrong outside of a character you love getting bumped off?
What I can comfortably say it has going for it is that the director, Tom George, making his movie only 1 hour and 38 minutes long, didn’t feel the need to make it exceed two hours as filmmakers so often do these days. You’ll be able to watch without committing an entire evening to the production. “See How They Run” never gets too monotonous.
By way of voiceover, we’re given some information about what’s going on. We learn that the locale is in the theater of London’s West End. Actors are getting set to present and celebrate the 100th performance of their version of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap.”
The famous American film director, Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody), is there to gather information about the show so he can reshape the play into his vision for a movie. Leo has brought along with him a screenwriter named Mervyn, played by David Oyelowo, and some producers to get the ball rolling.
At some point, Leo professes to love a good death scene early in a film to capture the attention of his audience. Interestingly enough, it’s his death that gets this movie flourishing. Now that it is, everyone is a suspect and everyone is the next possible victim.
This is where all the fun starts.
Enter Saoirse Ronan as the rookie constable named Stalker. Oh, the foreshadowing with that name, and in a film loaded with flashbacks, no less.
Stalker’s quite naïve, but as the story goes along, you notice she not only catches on quickly but is not as green as she first appeared. Sam Rockwell plays inspector Stoppard from Scotland Yard. He’s been around the detective game for a while, is a bit eccentric, and is not at all happy that he has to babysit Stalker. She’s much too thirsty and much too lively for his liking. He enjoys stopping to think, I mean drink, when he’s on the job. While he’s in the pub, she’s working the case, actively taking notes and gathering evidence that he doesn’t seem at all interested in collecting.
Tom George got himself a massive, incredible cast. However, needing to give them all a reason to be there can sometimes get in the way of a filmmaker’s original intent. This yarn isn’t “Clue,” something that never lost its grip on the audience no matter what was happening on screen and had an even larger cast. It also kept you in the story. Here that is exactly what happens. Story and cast sometimes leave the audience too much to look at without explicit instructions on which direction is best. Since this is George’s feature debut, this large of a cast just may have gotten the better of him.
As a result, the who in the dunit starts to become secondary to the audience seeing if the underused Rockwell and irksome Ronan will have a good relationship when and if they get their man.
My score is what it is because, at times, “See How They Run” was a real yawner. The wrong person drinks from the teacup with the poison in it. How unoriginal. It isn’t terrible, but there are just too many moments when you see what’s coming for this to be the mystery you were hoping to see.
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See How They Run
Directed by: Tom George
Written by: Mark Chappell
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson, Harris Dickinson, Shirley Henderson, Sian Clifford, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Reece Shearsmith, Charlie Cooper
Run Time: 1h 38m
Genres: Comedy, Mystery
Distributed by: Searchlight Pictures