Adrien Brody and his opening gambit explaining that murder mystery events are all the same is a bold statement when See How They Run drops the ball. The ensemble piece pays tribute to Agatha Christie but is a barebones collection of barely moving motivations for murder. Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan are a fine pairing on paper but in turn, they are the cliché-ridden spectacles of the period, a style director Tom George appears taken with for the whole running of a murder mystery that forgets to incorporate its latter portions. Still, Richard Hawley is on the soundtrack, so Cole’s Corner does the heavy lifting once more.
No amount of heavy lifting can help the wet and lonely feeling See How They Run creates. Where its set design is initially appealing and its 1950s aesthetic slots into place nicely, George directs as though he sees himself as the next Wes Anderson. A weak replicant who relies too much on unobservant split cuts that fade as soon as they appear in one of many dull choices. See How They Run is occasionally inspired, with its Tim Key and Reece Shearsmith appearances a real delight for those stuck in the trenches of British television comedy. But beyond their work, there is little explosive or interesting work. Shirley Henderson appears as Agatha Christie, a sign that George was not too convinced of his own mystery and needed a direct comparison.
That direct comparison would have worked better had there been anything to compare it to. Brody and his frequent bouts of narration do little to piece together a barebones mystery that is given very little time. Nobody has the chance to flesh themselves out as an articulate, real piece of the world George has created. An absolute waste of a massive cast mired by a sincere love for the stage and the whodunnit sub-genre. It turns out writing up and subsequently solving mysteries in a satisfying way is rather difficult, and reliance on Hawley songs and Ronan one-liners is not enough to overcome the awful writing elsewhere, particularly what Rockwell must deal with. A few subversions of the genre are inevitable, minimal and appreciated for the break they give rather than the direction they take the story.
Twists and turns are inevitably taken but Brody’s opening gambit lingers on. They are all the same. See How They Run does little to push back against that despite it being obvious that the whodunnits are a broadly ranging experience. Rockwell and Ronan should have made for a bold and notable on-screen duo, but this George-directed piece is a lot of “should have” rather than “will do”. It should have featured a compelling mystery, and despite all the parts being there much of it is lost to what could be perceived as inexperience. That does not factor in, though, the cast is simply too big for its own good, hoping to give every familiar face one or two quirks and not having the strength of writing to do so. See How They Run falls at the first hurdle and never quite recovers, even if its intentions are just, unique and vaguely fun.