VOD film review: See How They Run
James R | On 07, Nov 2022
Director: Tom George
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, David Oyelowo, Adrien Brody, Reece Shearsmith, Harris Dickinson, Charlie Cooper, Ruth Wilson
Between Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc and Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot, there’s perhaps never been a better time for cinema to dive back into that most niche of movie genres: the murder mystery caper. Written by Mark Chappell, this playfully post-modern send-up of Agatha Christie goes right back to the source for its inspiration: the long-running play The Mousetrap. Whisking us back to its 100th performance on London’s West End, it imagines a backstage brutality that sends a star-studded cast of potentially sinister showbiz types scattering into the wings.
There’s Adrien Brody’s brash film director, Leo Köpernick, swanning in to adapt the play for the screen – putting several people’s noses out of joint, including egotistic writer Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo) – the commercially minded producer John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith), the preening actor Dickie Attenborough (Harris Dickinson) and ruthless manager Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson). Even the smaller parts are played by people of note, from Lucian Msamati as archaeologist Max Mallowan and Tim Key as the frustrated Met Police commissioner to This Country’s Charlie Cooper as reclusive usher Dennis.
The puzzle-box script isn’t as smart as it likes to pretend, but it makes up for it with a witty line in subverting expectations while explicitly spelling out what will happen next – a blend of voiceover gags, slapstick and on-screen titles that is so relentlessly paced that it’s impossible not to be charmed by the silliness and a cast who are clearly having so much fun. Holding it all together are Sam Rockwell – struggling to make more of his world-weary Inspector Stoppard than a thick London accent – and a brilliant Saiorse Ronan as his sparky sidekick, Constable Stalker. The icing on the cake, though, is Shirley Henderson, who pops up as Agatha Christie with scene-stealing glee. The result wouldn’t keep the queen of crime herself awake at night, and it’s not on a par with Knives Out, but it’s a knowingly theatrical romp that promises a fun night in.