See How They Run

When ‘The Mousetrap’ becomes a hit in London’s West End, Hollywood is at the ready for a movie adaptation from screenwriter Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo).  But Agatha Christie (Shirley Henderson) ensured that the contract stipulated that the film couldn’t be made until six months after the play ended its run.  This pits Hollywood producer John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith, "High-Rise") against theater impresario Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson), but it is hedonistic Hollywood director Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody) who is the first to be killed and world weary, alcoholic Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) is none too pleased to be assigned to show Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) ‘the ropes’ in “See How They Run.”

Laura's Review: C

Writer Mark Chappell kicks things off with our narrator, Kopernick, dismissing ‘The Mousetrap’ as second rate, stating that with murder mysteries ‘if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.’  Considering that mere days later I have to stop and think about who the murderer and what the motive was lends unfortunate credence to his words.  “See How They Run” tries for the slamming door frenzy of a staged farce, but it only works in fits and starts largely due to the wide-eyed yet competent doggedness and rat-a-tat delivery Saoirse Ronan brings to her constable.

For his feature debut, director Tom George’s pandemic shoot was able to take advantage of locations closed to the public for an air of authenticity.  Daniel Pemberton’s (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) delightful cowbell and snare drum score is period and genre perfection.  But the film’s large ensemble consists of largely interchangeable suspects, the most interesting among them the first to be offed.  As Stoppard’s boss Commissioner Harrold Scott, Tim Key registers as the inspector’s more politically correct superior.  The film also features Harris Dickinson as Richard Attenborough and Shirley Henderson as Agatha Christie, portrayed here as a rather cold-hearted opportunist.

“See How They Run” runs through various (and obvious) red herrings before landing on its murderer as last act moralizing.  It’s a lightweight entertainment that is forgotten as soon as its curtain comes down.

Robin's Review: C+

1950s London and the murder mystery play, Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” is a huge hit. An ambitious Hollywood producer sees the opportunity of adapting it to the big screen (and make a lot of money). There is a catch, though: the author refuses to approve the making of the movie version until the play closes its first run – and “The Trap” is not closing any time soon in “See How They Run.”

I remember, fondly, the silly drawing room comedies of the 30s and 40s where all of the many players speak loud and fast, and over each other, and everyone rushes in and out slamming doors. “The Mousetrap” would seem the ideal vehicle for just that kind of Hollywood movie – except for the demands of the writer, Christie (Shirley Henderson).

The ready and willing film director, Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody), will not be deterred, with his equally willing producer, John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith). For them, the show must go on – especially when it can make them a bundle of money. But, murder most foul is afoot and Leo is demised.

Enter laid back Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and his eager rookie Police Constable Stalker. Here begins the process of finding clues, unraveling the mysteries of the murder and searching for the killer. I would like to say that the story takes off and explores new landscapes of the whodunit. But, it does not.

What we have here, from tyro feature director, Tom George, and sophomore feature scribe Mark Chappell, is a clever idea with a couple of very good qualities, but it falls terribly flat. It is telling that at about the halfway point, I got bored and really did not care about who actually did “it.” This is not a good thing for a mystery spoof.

There were a couple of good things about “See How They Run.” Adrien Brody, as the deceased wannabe director, gets a good amount of screen time as our storyteller and is genuinely funny. But, better still, is Saoirse Ronan as Constable Stalker – naïve and innocent but not stupid – and the actress proves to have a very good sense of comedic timing. Too bad the rest of the cast did not get the same opportunity with two-dimensional characters and rote line readings their burden.

We do get a decent amount of the drawing room door-slamming and some amusing line deliveries but not nearly enough to make a fun movie.

Searchlight opens "See How They Run" in theaters on 9/16/22.