See How They Run opens with Adrien Brody’s Leo Köpernick saying that if you’ve seen one whodunit, you’ve seen them all. For somebody who claims to be a whodunit expert, he can’t see his murder coming. Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler. The filmmakers quickly get Leo’s murder out of the way before revealing anyone’s motive. Like Knives Out, See How They Run plays with the conventions of the murder mystery genre, but it takes a more meta approach. Imagine an Agatha Christie play if it were adapted by Randy from Scream. The film even revolves around an Agatha Christie play where the murder takes place. It never becomes too self-aware for its own good, however.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a whodunit without an eccentric detective. See How They Run gives us two for the price of one. Sam Rockwell plays the hard-drinking Inspector Stoppard, who’s invested in the crime committed, but he still finds time on the case for a haircut. Saoirse Ronan is more enthusiastic as rookie Constable Stalker. When she isn’t jotting down notes, she’s relaying information in her overeager yet soft-spoken voice. The dynamic between these two is what makes See How They Run sprint. I’d say that it’s an opposite’s attract relationship, but the film avoids ever making their rapport overtly romantic.
With a production of The Mousetrap serving as the murder scene, the film assembles an all-star ensemble of suspects, including David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson, and Harris Dickinson as a young Richard Attenborough (aka John Hammond). While the acting is sharp across the board, the supporting characters are where See How They Run falls short of Agatha Christie. Be it Murder on the Orient Express or And Then There Were None, Christie knew how to turn each of her players into a standout. Even when you only spent a little time with one of her characters, you remembered everything about them. The side characters here don’t have the same staying power, but Rockwell and Ronan do.
Ronan, in particular, continues to impress with her impeccable range. She’s showcased her comedic talents in Ladybird and various Wes Anderson movies. Although director Tom George’s style is reminiscent of Anderson’s, we’ve never seen Ronan like this before. Immediately winning the audience over, Ronan infuses every line delivery with irresistible charm. She can be naïve and timid, but also smarter and more determined than anyone anticipates. While Stalker’s at her best when paired with Stoppard, she’s more than capable of carrying a spinoff.
The mystery is fun as well. Mark Chappell’s screenplay doesn’t take as many chances as Knives Out, which remains the modern whodunit benchmark. However, the script moves at a breezy pace with witty dialogue sprinkled throughout. On one hand, I would’ve liked one or two more clues hinting at the final twist. Then again, that might’ve given away too much, which is the last thing you want in a whodunit. I feel compelled to view the film a second time to see if there are any clues I didn’t pick up on before. It’s an enjoyable watch, and the rewatch value seems promising. One could easily see See How They Run becoming a staple of your murder mystery movie marathons.