“A who dunnit. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.” This is a line repeated a couple of times in the film “See How They Run” and is kind of a nod to the audience of what to expect from this film. Murder mysteries have been done to death by this point, pun intended. That is not stopping filmmakers from trying to reinvent the wheel with their version of the trope. “See How They Run” is the newest film in this genre. The film is a story of a man who gets murdered with everyone a suspect, and it is up to a pair of detectives to solve the mystery. What’s the twist? It is a murder mystery story that happens during a murder mystery story. All of the suspects were in a play of a murder mystery, so they are acknowledging all of the gimmicks as they are happening. I’m always a fan of a good dry comedy, and this certainly fits that bill. Even though the film is fairly predictable and not too deep, it is still a fun movie to watch and you will definitely be laughing the whole time.
The year is 1953 and the location is London. Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” is celebrating its 100th performance. The show is getting rave reviews and there are talks that it might soon get a movie adaptation. It should be a joyous night. However, it is also the night that film director Leo Kopernick (Adrian Brody) gets murdered. Kopernick was not the most well-liked man, so there are many suspects. Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) are on the case. Stalker is a bit of a beginner and is not always sure what she is doing, but she looks up to Stoppard. He couldn’t care less about her, as his only focus is solving this case. As the movie goes on, we learn more about each of the suspects and their motives. We also learn a little bit more about our detectives along the way as their friendship blooms. The play serves as a backdrop for the mystery as there are many similarities between both, creating many tongue in cheek moments. You will be taken on many twists and turns throughout this film, but there is one thing that will stay on your mind: who killed Kopernick?
The key to success when it comes to a murder mystery is to have some fantastic characters. You need a good variety and people that you can connect with. This film succeeds really well on both of those accounts. And those characters would be nothing without the people who played them. Even though some characters were more important than others, this was really an ensemble cast. With that being said, I feel the need to single out Ronan’s performance. If you look at most of her filmography, you’ll see that she has mostly done serious roles. After watching this film, I have realized that it is a true shame. She has terrific comedic chops that help bring some energy into the film. Her character did not always know what she was doing, but Ronan’s sympathetic performance made her someone you wanted to root for. I hope to see her branch out to comedies again. I also felt that Rockwell did a great job with his performance as the inspector. I do feel that the character needed a bit more depth, but I don’t blame Rockwell for that. His performance made this character fun to watch, as he played this totally competent detective a little goofily, which really fit the tone of this film. He was able to toe the line of serious murder mystery and fun comedy with his acting, and that is why Rockwell is one of the greatest modern actors out there. I also have to mention Brody’s performance. He was not in the film for that long, but he certainly brought a lot of laughs. His role was the sole American around a bunch of British people, which made his part a little funny by nature. Brody is another actor who is not known for doing a lot of comedies, but he certainly nailed the comedic aspects of this performance. All in all, every single actor in this film deserved their part, and that is what made acting one of the strongest points of this film.
This film would not be able to work if it was played seriously. It is the comedy that helps this film shine and separate it from similar murder mysteries. The humor is not filled with obvious jokes and slapstick comedy. Most of the jokes have a blink-and-you-miss-it quality, where they are seamlessly placed into conversations. It’s the type of humor where if I wrote it down, the humor would not have the same impact, as hearing the jokes in the moment is what gets the laughs. Some of the jokes were a little corny, but a lot of them were fairly smart. A plain murder mystery would have you falling asleep. This screenplay had some excellent quips that kept me entertained. I will also say that the story itself was a little decent, but maybe a little predictable. It was hard for me to figure out the actual murderer, but there were other situations in the film that I felt were easy for me to figure out. That is kind of par for the course when it comes to murder mysteries, so I will say it did better than what you might expect from the genre. I thought having this film take place during the production of a murder mystery was pretty clever. The jokes they were able to make about that were great and it made for some lively and dramatic moments.
This was the type of story that is absolutely timeless. I did love the 1950s setting, with its architecture and costumes. However, I feel that this is the type of story that you can enjoy no matter what year it is. It is also something that the whole family can enjoy. Besides murder, there is nothing too innapropriate for children, but there is also nothing too juvenile for adults. Sure, this is not the most unique or gripping film out there, but that does not mean the film is not entertaining. We could all use a film that is just some harmless fun and allows you to do a little problem solving. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and I would love to see more films like this in the future. So if you want to see the new twist of the murder mystery genre, or if you want a comedy that is not so in-your-face, go watch “See How They Run” today.