‘Knives Out’ opened the doors for films like See How They Run.
Tom George’s ‘See How They Run’ is the newest entry in the “whodunit” genre. It is complete with an outstanding ensemble cast and some twists and turns that vary between satisfying and uninspired. The plot centers on a new play. It is based on the work of Agatha Christie that opened in London’s West End in the early 1950s. When a big-shot Hollywood director is brought overseas to help adapt the hit play into a film, tensions rise, and, of course, murders take place. Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and rookie Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) are brought into the fold to help get to the bottom of the mystery.
Director Tom George’s sense of style suggests he may be a fan of Wes Anderson’s films.
At times, the film shows action from multiple unique perspectives with two images side-by-side. The scenes are fun, creating different frames of reference, but they rarely offer new insight into the action. These moments, along with quick edits, quirky camera angles, and the film’s acknowledgment of the tropes of whodunit filmmaking, make what could have been a dull experience at the movies more appetizing.
As the reserved alcoholic inspector, Rockwell perfectly countered with Ronan as an overeager constable. Rockwell’s character has been through the wringer a time or two, while Ronan writes down every detail of the investigation for fear of missing a detail. The two have chemistry onscreen, although it’s challenging to imagine Ronan not having chemistry with anyone considering her charm and acting prowess. When their characters are actively interrogating suspects or making a new breakthrough in the mystery, the film picks up speed. But it comes to a screeching halt during some stretches of a car stake out, scenes that seem to linger longer than they should.
The play within a film setting helps to liven it up. We see parallels of the play reflected in the real-world mystery. This makes some of the “aha!” moments land with a bit more gratification. The film would risk falling flat if it weren’t for these extra bits of flair. I don’t want to say much more about the plot for fear of giving too much away, but hardcore fans of Agatha Christie mysteries and the writer herself will find a lot to love.
I give See How They Run 3 out of 5 stars. A great ensemble cast and fun filmmaking choices make what could have been a lifeless corpse have a little more swagger. It will be in theaters on September 16th.