SEE HOW THEY RUN is a surprisingly fun, tongue-in-cheek love letter to classic whodunnit films. I say surprising because despite its all-star cast, I haven’t seen much publicity and was worried that was an indicator of a movie the studio is trying to bury. But fear not, screenwriter Mark Chappell writes an entertaining, welcomed addition to a genre that has seen a resurgence with DEATH ON THE NILE, KNIVES OUT, and its upcoming sequel THE GLASS ONION. There are so many interesting characters, it’s hard to determine who the murderer is, despite the clever script telling you the elements to look out for from the very beginning. I think this is a film that will get even better with multiple viewings, revealing new clues you may have missed the first time.
Set in London’s West End in 1953, the film follows the stage show version of Agatha Christie’s THE MOUSETRAP as its cast and crew celebrate their 100th performance. The show is so successful, it is being adapted into a motion picture by director Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody), who has traveled to the UK to see the play himself and to work with screenwriter Mervin Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo). But when Kopernick winds up dead, his body staged on the, well, stage of theater, it’s up to Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) and Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) to identify his killer. Everyone involved in the play is a suspect, and remember it may be the person you least suspect.
SEE HOW THEY RUN works best when it is poking fun at its whodunnit predecessors, breaking the fourth wall to foreshadow what is going to come later in the movie. And more than being self-aware, the film is legitimately funny. I especially loved the dynamic between Ronan and Rockwell—Ronan as the ingenue constable seeking to learn from Rockwell’s cynical detective. It’s not every day that we see Ronan in a dry, satirical comedy like this, but I hope this is the start of more to come.
Despite my years of true crime and LAW AND ORDER experience, I will admit that I still did not guess the killer’s identity, which was even more hilarious because the film spells out the formula for discovering the “who” in the “whodunnit,” so I probably should have figured it out. But that just shows the cleverness of the writing and Chappell’s ability to make red herrings out of many of the talented ensemble cast. As is said at the end of the film and THE MOUSETRAP play, which in real life is the longest running play in the world, remember to keep the twists and secrets to yourself! And that is what I am going to do in this review.
My Review: B