The whodunit came back with a vengeance after the success of Knives Out and Murder on the Orient Express. each movie was a box office success and inspired sequels. They each received critical acclaim as well, snagging Oscar nominations. With Bodies Bodies Bodies already landing earlier this year, See How They Run makes its theatrical debut this weekend. While the Tom George film features a meta-screenplay and an all-star cast, it barely does enough to stand out in a crowded weekend.
At the afterparty of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, director Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody) is murdered. Troubled inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and newcomer Constable Stalker (Saorise Ronan) find themselves investigating the messy case. As they discover the many movies from the procedures, cast, and crew, the two officers struggle to get on the same page.
Those who love the work of Christie will find See How They Run more exciting than the general audience member. In fact, the film seems to take a back seat to her in nearly every aspect. Christie appears in the film, as do other cast members from the original run of The Mousetrap in London. While devotion to Christie’s style remains integral in the genre, See How They Run goes too far in its idol worship. What should be one of our most enjoyable mysteries instead feels hollow.
Most of these issues fall on the director, George, who never really lets his actors take over the film. The sequences run a little too stale despite featuring some of the most talented actors alive. The only time See How They Run really takes off is with Ronan. The actress brings the bubbly energy that the rest of the story desperately requires. She stands in stark contrast to the world-weary Rockwell. There’s certainly an archetype for the character in the story, yet he still feels oddly out-of-place. His humor hits at a much lower clip than Ronan’s, and this feels like its a tonal balance that George cannot execute.
Additionally, the supporting cast feels mostly wasted. Perhaps the worst casualties are Harris Dickinson and Pearl Chanda, who both hammer home the impressions of their respective stars. However, this again speaks to the odd meta-commentary that does not work in the film. Why write a film where these two legends have to be slavishly recreated if there are few sequences to reward the performer for their dead-on performances? Problems like these become a weight on the neck of the film.
The one star who seems to deserve their billing is Brody. He kicks the doors off See How They Run, quickly emerging as the only tonal fit. He carries himself with a wink and nod style that never ignores the arrogance his character displays. Brody’s character reeks of privilege and vanity, all of which Brody brings through in his physicality and line deliveries. Sadly, once he’s been removed from the plot, the remaining cast never picks up the slack. Again, bringing in a high-energy performer is not inherently a bad choice. However, once that energy is missing from the narrative, it becomes impossible to regain that momentum.
See How They Run will certainly find fans. However, it feels closer to a disposable whodunit trying to capture the audience for the genre. When other stories like Knives Out, Bodies Bodies Bodies, and Do Revenge run circles around your story, we’re left wondering what went wrong.