If you know me, you’ll know I love a murder mystery. Whether it’s an Agatha Christie adaptation or not, if there’s some sort of ensemble cast wrapped in a whodunnit? I’m there. Turns out See How They Run also has the benefit of being super self-aware, lovingly poking fun at the entire whodunnit genre along the way. Why’s that so great? Because it knows what it is, and it doesn’t even try to fool you into thinking there’ll be some weird plot twist that re-invents the classic murder mystery for even a second.
Much like a Christie novel, See How They Run stars an all-star cast of characters, led by Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan as an unlikely pairing of detectives who have joined up to solve the murder of quite a famous theatre director in 1950s London. Whilst Ronan’s Constable Stalker is an eager rookie with no experience and Rockwell’s Inspector Stoppard is the complete opposite, the mismatched duo form a relationship that makes them the best people for the job, whilst hilariously getting it all wrong along the way.
Turns out mixing Wes Anderson quirkiness with Rian Johnson genre similarities isn’t such a bad idea! And in a nutshell, that’s easily the best way of describing this movie. British-ise Anderson and Johnson and this is what you get.
Okay firstly, let me start off by saying how brilliant Saoirse Ronan is in this. I mean, who knew that she’d be not only a brilliant dramatic actress but a pretty darn good comedic one too?! The obligatory ensemble cast that comes with a whodunnit were all great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s Ronan and Sam Rockwell who kept me invested continuously throughout this one. (And Rockwell’s English accent? Surprisingly very good. The man can do no wrong.)
What See How They Run does perfectly is siphon in some rather niche inside jokes alongside some quite intelligent ones. The script is well constructed, allowing the audience in on some fun in-jokes that both break the fourth wall and tell you exactly what is going to happen from pretty early on. It is all vaguely meta, but not in a self-aggrandising or cheesy way, and that is a balance that is so often difficult to get right for most writers and directors.
There were only a couple of flaws with this one for me, to be honest. First, although the set dressing was good for the most part, there were one or two glimpses in which I caught something modern and it really took me out of the illusion. Secondly, though it is made well and is largely entertaining, most of the story involves things we’ve seen before and it isn’t often unpredictable either. Alas, something tells me an upcoming whodunnit might upstage this one…
Nevertheless, this movie is pretty fun despite its flaws. Though the second act does dip in terms of quality, it still gets a recommendation from me for its humour and star quality.
See How They Run is currently available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.
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Overall Enjoyability Rating: ½