You know a genre has made a real comeback when the passably forgettable entries pop up. That’s an apt description for Tom George’s See How They Run which features lovely production design, a few humorous bits, and a murder mystery that’s hard to get invested in. The 2017 remake of Murder on the Orient Express and 2019’s Knives Out made whodunits a valuable commodity again as Run catches up with the trend.
This one is a little meta (very much of the times) as the killing occurs in London’s West End circa 1953. The Mousetrap, a play written by Agatha Christie, is celebrating its 100th performance. Side note: for some fun research, look up how long the actual play ran. American film director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody), a drunken louse, is slated to make the film adaptation. His inappropriate behavior puts him at odds with the stage performance’s lead Dickie Attenborough (Harris Dickinson), producers John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith) and Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson), and screenwriter Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo). Another side note as my 90s kid upbringing only left me slightly distracted that Dickie Attenborough would become a famed director who also happens to be John Hammond from Jurassic Park.
Moving on, Leo’s early narration correctly surmises that the most contemptible character in these stories usually gets offed. Therefore his time is short-lived and everyone onscreen seems to have a motive. Another drunken louse is in charge of the crime solving when Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) is assigned the case. Shadowing him is the eager but inexperienced Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan).
The chemistry between the two investigators is meant to carry the load for most of the snappy runtime (98 minutes). This is where the screenplay from Mark Chappell isn’t quite up to snuff. Rockwell speaks his lines in a woozy register that recalls Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. Lady Bird‘s Ronan (like the rookie she’s portraying) gives it her all. Unfortunately the material is pretty thin. It might be considered a lesser tome from Christie, who factors into the plot in numerous ways. To put it simply, the case that Stoppard and his trusty Stalker are looking into isn’t that compelling.
See How They Run goes by quickly and there are a handful of inspired bits. When the action reaches a snowed in mansion in the third act, I wished the whole picture could’ve been set there. Most of it is as disposable as the victim.
**1/2 (out of four)