See How They Run is the latest whodunnit to release in theaters following the resurgence of the mystery genre. This is partly due to the massive success of films like Knives Out and recent Agatha Christie adaptations Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express. However, if you compare See How They Run to those films, it’s more in the vein of Knives Out than Agatha Christie.
Directed by Tom George, See How They Run is a meta-commentary on the whodunnit genre that criticizes and celebrates the format. Following the murder of a disgraced American director in 1953 London, Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) along with rookie Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) look to investigate the colorful cast of producers and actors behind the play that the director was going to adapt.
See How They Run’s carried by the charming leads of Rockwell and Ronan. The cliche pairing of the disillusioned veteran and the gullible rookie is a tale as old as time, but George’s spin on it, paired with the chemistry of the leads, makes for a fun time.
The production design accentuates the feeling of See How They Run as a stage play on the big screen. The characters’ sets, props, and wardrobes make the world feel intentionally manufactured. However, See How They Run perceives itself as more clever than it is. Moreover, it sometimes goes a little too far with its meta take on the murder mystery.
The foreshadowing of certain events makes the investigation of See How They Run leaves something to be desired. While it’s fun to focus on the playful back-and-forth banter of the two lead investigators, the suspects and murder case itself are as surface-level as they come. Whereas a film like Knives Out subverts the mystery in a way that keeps viewers guessing, See How They Run is so caught up in displaying its self-awareness that it mystery becomes cliched.
Moreover, it’s evident that See How They Run had the potential to subvert the genre in more interesting ways. Instead, it’s complacent in its storytelling with very obvious foreshadowing. That doesn’t necessarily make it a dull time at the movies, though.
There are things to be admired from the film, though. The cinematography and editing of See How They Run give the movie a Wes Anderson feel. The resulting frenetic energy pairs well with this editing style, giving the film a new level of excitement. The movie also benefits from a short and sweet runtime.
Moreover, the score by composer Daniel Pemberton is the cherry on top. All of the technical aspects of See How They Run make it an aesthetically pleasing film. Sam Rockwell’s disgruntled investigator is also an amusing protagonist. Overall, the film feels like a brief 90-minute escape from reality. See How They Run may not necessarily break new ground in the genre, but its self-aware and irreverent treatment of the genre is just enough to make it tolerable. With a charming cast and impeccable production design, it’s a decent time at the movies. – Ernesto Valenzuela
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