“In the West End of 1950s London, plans for a movie version of a smash-hit play come to an abrupt halt after a pivotal member of the crew is murdered.”

Director: Tom George
Writer: Mark Chappell
Staring: Ruth Wilson, Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo, Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan
Release Date: September 16, 2022

In 1950s never-sunny London, there is a theatrical production that is being plotted out for motion picture development. The behind-the-scenes political antics are kept out of the spotlight, until the director of the movie Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody) is murdered and staged on the stage for all to see. It is a rather unseemly sight and it is a mystery that must be solved.

Cue the comedic police department duo.

Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) is a depressed older investigator who goes through the motions rather slowly, and quietly. He gets unwillingly paired up with Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan), who is a young cadet eager to learn and ask a lots of questions. Stalker likes to jump to conclusions and connect all the dots, even if they are acres apart. This both helps and hurts her, but her verbal theory vomiting makes for a great dichotomy with Stoppard…who stops and thinks about everything.

It is almost like they named the characters Stalker and Stoppard on purpose.

The pair of oddballs discover clues, untangle lies and uncover truths. In the end all the characters end up at the same place in under the residential roof you wouldn’t expect. There is the unveiling of the truth and a final moment that circles back to a conversation had earlier in the mystery.

See How They Run fits the classic who-dun-it formula.

Four-Time Oscar Nominee Saoirse Ronan

I fucking love Saoirse Ronan. Everything she is in is good. Playing Constable Stalker, Ronan is able to be the comedic foil for Sam Rockwell’s flat-faced dry delivery. She is able to bottle up the enthusiasm of an eager up-and-comer and have to spew out appropriately with a kind drip. It is like getting an IV of humanity in a story about murder and deceit.

You know who else is really good in everything I have ever seen him in? Sam Rockwell.

The one-time Oscar winner brings back his comedic chops like Captain Klenzendorf character from Jojo Rabbit (2019). Rockwell wears the dreary trench coat with the polar opposite confidence and Charisma of fellow British detective, Luther. His slouchy, plotting demeanor makes it funnier when the characters with something to hide eventually cave to his droopy eyes.

Those with the most to hide are those with the most to gain from The Mousetrap’s popularity. While this play is still running strong theatrically, getting it onto the silver screen would make it massive. Kopernick obviously would have benefitted…if he was not dead. What about the show-runner Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson), the movie producer John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith), or writer Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo)? All three of those characters have big parts to play and all are worth the screen-time.

This is just the behind-the-scenes nerd of me, but I loved the arguments between the writers, directors and producers. Those flashbacks are absolutely hilarious and Adrien Brody plays a great small part as the director Leo Kopernick. He is wonderfully over-the-top kind of asshole. His murder scene is also wonderful. The bit with the door. I bought it hook line and sinker. But really, feed me writers and directors fighting about their vision and I will be gluttonous to watch all their egos go aflutter.

See How They Run is a perfect warmup for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022). It has the unique characters, quippy dialogue, enough twists-and-turns, and a quick enough pace. If Rian Johnson didn’t exist, then See How They Run could have an ever bigger impact. The major difference between the two is the visual appeal. See How They Run is set in 1950s England, so naturally it is going to be a little bit more bland. With that being said, Johnson and whatever witchcraft cinematographer Steve Yeldin manage to create something visually stimulating experience.

Just wondering a thought out loud, but the costumes have to help there. Adding more flare to everyone one of the characters to highlight. Benoit Blanc does not miss on an outfit. Not a single one.

We can sprinkle some more credit on See How They Run. The movie is directed by Tom George and written by Mark Chappell. Both are relatively new to feature films. According to IMDB, this is both George and Chappell’s first full length movie. If this is their baseline, then they have some potentially fruitful careers in front of them.

See How They Run is streaming on HBO Max and I would whole-heartedly recommend that everyone watch it as the winter weekends start getting colder & darker. It is great entertainment. It is a perfect appetizer for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which comes out on Netflix in late December.

STANKO RATING: B (3.5/5 Stars)

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