If you understand what makes the whodunnit genre, you may find it a pleasant place to be. However, only those who are truly enthused of its charms may be able to successfully commit murder in Tom George's See How They Run, a film that lovingly delves into real history and classic cinema in an effort to provide a delightful distraction.
The mystery of this pseudo-fictional tale revolves around the death of Leo Kopernick (Adrian Brody), a man who was instrumental in the possible West End film adaptation of a successful play. Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) must get to the bottom of the crime before the killer can be brought to justice.
See How They Run, which includes a lot of meta comedy, demonstrates quite clearly the basics of murder mysteries.
There's definitely a deep appreciation and great comprehension of the basic principles that make a murder mystery. That's evident throughout See How They Run, as there's a rich stream of jokes that lead the audience to red herrings, false starts, and legitimate foreshadowing of what's to come. It's a whodunnit, as future victim Leo Kopernick assures us.
If that statement were to be the basis for what happens throughout this mystery comedy, a team might take its audience to some very interesting places. See How They Run goes too far, however, to the point where it plays as an homage to more interesting murder mysteries rather than creating its own fascinating caper. By the time the modest, sensible clues are revealed, it nels as much a shrug of acceptance.
The all-star cast of See How They Run brings another well-known crime mystery filmmaking technique to the table.
Saoirse Ronan rises above the rest to direct See How They Run, a film about a tense ensemble of actors.
When you have a bunch of well-known actors to throw into the mix, get another win for See How They Run in this regard, as Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, and Adrian Brody are flanked by the likes of Ruth Wilson, David Oyelowo, and Harris Dickinson, among others. Even then, Ronans Constable Stalker triumphs over the pack and steals the film.
The enigmatic character of Ronans is the surprise anchor of this stellar cast. See How They Run paired Saorise Ronan and Sam Rockwell fairly effectively as co-leads, and his performance helps with some of the rockier tonal shifts the script navigates.
Ronan's dramatic precision and humor provide a fantastic surrogate who carries the company forward.
See How They Run is a funny whodunnit, but it lacks the necessary madcap energy.
See How The Runs' murderous mayhem has some promising ingredients. It's an enjoyable, overall exercise that is very important when it comes to establishing an identity in a vast genre canon such as the whodunnit. That doesnt compensate for another major flaw in this ode to Agatha Christie's works, which is the lack of madcap energy.
A whodunnit is usually a mostly serious affair with some funny punches, or a race to the finish through absurdities, wordplay, and occasionally a fatality. That confusion makes trying to guess what kind of film was being watched the real mystery take a backseat at times.
See How They Run is a pleasure to watch, while being frustrating to know what might have been. Given the pricing of this film, one would expect the sequel to Clue or Knives Out, which is utterly betrayed by the less serious elements in the script. Die hard genre fans will still find some chuckles, but the public may not be shocked by what this criminal is attempting to accomplish.