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Film Review: ‘See How They Run’ is a Lighthearted Mystery Romp

Searchlight Pictures
Searchlight Pictures

It’s probably just a coincidence that Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery premieres on the same week that another whodunit in See How They Run is opening. They’re very different films, but it just struck me as interesting, as the former is certainly higher profile than the latter. That being said, See How They Run blazes enough of its own path, in homaging Agatha Christie novels while almost parodying her too, that it never feels like that. This detective flick has a different tone, style, and scale. Taking just on its own, it’s an enjoyable enough movie that’s perhaps a little too mild for real high level affection. As part of a fall run on fun mysteries? I say bring on some more!

See How They Run wants you to love Agatha Christie as much as it does, and while that’s not my truth, more power to you if it is. Even if you don’t care about her work, there’s still fun to be had here. Part of that is the light and fluffy style, while part of that is the loose performances from the game cast. Especially with one of the leads, there’s a lot of joy being put on the screen. To one degree or another, it rubs off on you by the end.

Searchlight Pictures

Taking place the West End of London during the 1950s, plans are in place for a hit play to be adapted into a movie. The film’s development comes to a halt when someone in the crew is murdered. Sent to investigate is Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and rookie partner in Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan). One has seen it all. One has seen nothing. They’re a motley pair, almost from the start. However, they might be perfect for this case, seeing the world so vert differently.

The more they look into the murder, the more the pair find themselves deeper in the puzzle. Navigating the theater world, this whodunit includes the film’s director (Adrien Brody), writer (David Oyelowo), and even none other than Richard Attenborough (Harris Dickinson). Mild hijinks ensue, even as the danger rises.

Searchlight Pictures

Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan are the highlights, even if the case does all seem to be having fun. Adrien Brody and David Oyelowo seem to be having the most fun, amongst the supporting players, but Rockwell and Ronan are where it’s at. The former mixes in some bumbling detective elements with some old salty ones, making for an interesting character. As for the latter, she’s like a newly rescued puppy, turning in the film’s best work. You’ll root for her, plain and simple. Her recurring bit of jumping to arresting every suspect for the murder is a comic high. In addition to the aforementioned Harris Dickinson, the cast includes Charlie Cooper, Oliver Jackson, Reece Shearsmith, Ruth Wilson, and more.

Director Tom George and writer Mark Chappell approach this like a lark, and it’s the right call. See How They Run works best when it’s just having a bit of fun with the Agatha Christie nature of it all. It almost feels like George watched some Wes Anderson movies, lowered the quirk factor, and had his north star. It works, too, as the film has a light tone that helps make the time fly by.

See How They Run is a nice time at the movies, and nothing more than that. It’s not trying to be much more, either. So, while something like Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery offers up a more complete experience, this is also one worth making some time for. You’ll almost certainly smile your way through it.

SCORE: ★★★


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Written by Joey Magidson

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