There’s something you should know about me and the murder mystery genre. Every retelling of a murder-most-foul — in literature, film, or art — can be promptly inserted into the category of comfort food. It’s positively thrilling to watch stumbled-upon dead cadavers be converted into exciting puzzles, with fairly reasonable and logical endpoints. Murders with twists and turns, populated by brilliantly orchestrated physicality’s and temperaments sure to baffle the audience till an inevitable unveiling.
SEE HOW THEY RUN does enough to entertain on this front, but not enough to wash out the empty calorie taste. But maybe that’s the goal, to emulate the feeling of having read an enjoyable book, or watched an enjoyable play in the genre. I could certainly speak to the ingestion period; the temporary high that quals a boring commute, or long-journeyed plane ride. In essence, a distraction to hold you over till the next meaningful thing in your life.
That said, the screws that hold together SEE HOW THEY RUN’S various components feel altogether too tightly wound, complicated, and unnecessary. All for what ultimately passes for an adequately enjoyable murder mystery suited for an Agatha Christie novel.
The story revolves around the mounting of a real-life stage play titled, “The Mousetrap,” a long-running London West End staple crafted by the Queen of the whodunnit, herself. On eve of the production’s 100th performance, the Director’s body is discovered lying on stage. What’s more…he’s dead.
What proceeds this opening gambit is nothing that’ll surprise even the normies in the audience, save the reveal of the killer. There’s always the dead figure that kicks off the story, and they’re always much maligned. A negative fixture in the lives of the cast, leading to their potential culpability.
The script is not without its share of wit and humor. Writer, Mark Chappell spares his audience the fate of a braindead exercise in genre by formulating a screenplay that’s aware of the strengths and shortcomings of the whodunit, proceeding accordingly.
There’s the delightful David Oyelowo, playing a frustrated writer who’s work is continually butchered by the director. Reece Shearsmith, playing real-life British film producer, John Woolf, is the victim of a vicious blackmail campaign helmed by the director, himself. Then, there’s the young and handsome, Richard Attenborough (Harris Dickinson) who was last seen having a violent altercation with the director the night of his murder.
Rockwell, the only American actor in the cast portraying an Englishman, has an adequately convincing presence. His accent work doesn’t ring false, but that’s because he understands the importance of reservation, lest you appear like a cartoon character. Ronan is the clear stand-out, portraying the bubbly assistant detective, wide-eyed and constantly chipper. She’s the lubricant that keeps the film’s engine smooth and breezy, with a doe-eyed reverence for the investigative process, and an eye for detail.
At this point in my review, I would recommend that the aforementioned film be experienced in theaters, the medium in which most films should be enjoyed. Not so, in the case of SEE HOW THEY RUN. In this particular case, I would recommend that you enjoy its slight whimsy and breezy pace in the comfort of your own home when it eventually releases on streaming. Perhaps on a lazy Sunday morning snuggled with a significant other. Maybe accompanied by a tasty mimosa. Happy hunting, detective.