I like Sam Rockwell. I like Saoirse Ronan. I also am a big fan of Adrien Brody.
Those names in the credits are what made me want to see See How They Run.
The trailers looked promising, but then again, it’s the purpose of movie trailers to make movies look like they’re worth seeing.
Add to that, the appeal of murder mysteries and that also includes comedy murder mysteries which is what See How They Run purports to be, and there were enough reasons for me to buy a movie ticket.
The story is set in London’s West End in 1953 and is centered around the Agatha Christie play "The Mousetrap" which, in real life, ran from its opening there in 1952 through March of 2020. It starred a young Richard Attenborough, played in the movie by Harris Dickinson.
See How They Run opens with a short commentary about the classic Agatha Christie murder mystery formula in which someone is murdered, a group of suspects are brought together and interrogated and eventually the person we least suspect is found guilty of the crime.
The movie seems to be setting the stage for a humorous take on the murder mystery genre and all the things we love about the classic whodunnits. There was the hint of an interesting premise.
In See How They Run, the stage version of "The Mousetrap" is in the process of being rewritten and made into a Hollywood film adaptation by an American movie director played by Adrien Brody. Not everyone is aboard with the idea. Tensions are at the boiling point. Someone gets murdered. The bloody corpse is dramatically deposited on the couch on the theater stage.
Enter Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan as a veteran police inspector and a bright young single mom who wants to make her way into the men’s world of crime investigation. We’ve seen this character dynamic countless times with the old veteran cop and the wide-eyed upstart. We know how it plays out. The comedic possibilities are endless.
The problem here is that none of the potential is really tapped. As a result, See How They Run is a dud of a movie that just coasts along largely on the merits of its star casting and not so much on the success of the characters they are playing.
Nothing much happens in See How They Run. Granted, the killer is eventually identified but the reveal lacks the big reveal that fuels most movies like this.
It’s anti-climactic, at best.
Besides some braggable talent and some nice art direction and costume design (circa the early 1950s) there isn’t much to witness.
It would seem that even the filmmakers here were aware of that. It would explain the inclusion of numerous split screen sequences that have little relevance to advancing the story. They seem to be thrown in just to add a dash of eye candy and distraction.
The result is that See How They Run barely chugs along on its way to the finish line.
There are attempts at clever dialog and running visual gags like the cute little blue car that seems like it drove off the set of a Wes Anderson movie. There are literary references galore for Agatha Christie fans who know and love her legendary characters and stories.
But nothing makes up for the lack of an interesting plot here. Whodunnit movies depend on that. For that matter, successful movies in any genre depend on a plot that pulls you in and a story that sticks in your head.
It’s what See How They Run fails to do.
There is a laundry list of real people referenced in the film (the aforementioned Agatha Christie and Richard Attenborough in addition to Alfred Hitchcock, Grace Kelly, Humphrey Bogart and others) thrown into the mix in order to spice things up and make the story more tangible and interesting. Like the rest of the film, it ultimately goes nowhere.
See How They Run is a sinking ship with no rudder and no life vests for the celebrity passengers who signed up for the ride. It’s a movie for only the most die hard Agatha Christie fans looking for buried treasure.
See How They Run is in theaters now.