See How They Run: A Movie Review

Agatha Christie inspired mystery/thriller is light on substance, but still makes for a fun time at the pictures.


Aidan Moll, Guest Writer

I love a good murder mystery. My bookshelf is filled with Agatha Christie books. In recent years, there have been an influx of talented comics making whodunnits all of their own, with initially good results. A few years ago, I went to see Ryan Johnson’s Knives Out, which ended up being my favorite movie of 2019. It had a snappy mystery plot with a lot of moving parts and emotion, and a solid layer of humor on top of it. Last fall, I enjoyed the mischief of the first season of Only Murders in the Building, Steve Martin’s comedy murder mystery Hulu series. I tuned in each week sufficiently entertained and intrigued with the progression of the story. Earlier this year, I saw Apple TV’s The Afterparty, and I was totally blown away. It was, once again, a comedy murder mystery, but it had genre shifts in each episode making for a legitimately interesting and fun viewing experience. Then, halfway through the summer, the second season of Only Murders came out, and I wasn’t as positive about it. Where gimmick episodes were the entire premise of The Afterparty, here they felt like a desperate bid to keep the audience’s attention. The mystery was a little too convoluted, with one too many bait-and-switch murderer reveals. Now, I’m seeing the trailer for Glass Onion: a Knives Out Mystery, and let me tell you, my confidence is waning. It looks like it is relying far too much on action-thriller set pieces than anything. All of this is to set up the world See How They Run is coming into, the point of oversaturation that it is finding itself in.


See How They Run is not a bad movie by any means. The cast is all at their best, the humor always hits, and the structure isn’t terrible. The problem with the movie is in the mystery itself. The plot heavily involves Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, being about the party after the 100th performance of the play. A big Hollywood director (Adrien Brody) plans to make a movie adaptation of the play and ends up stirring up trouble at the afterparty. The problem is that he is possibly the most unlikeable person in existence, picking fights with nearly everyone involved in the show. He is promptly bumped off, and we are introduced to the real protagonists. Saorise Ronan and Sam Rockwell are the two police officers investigating the case. Ronan is the bright and bubbly rookie that gets on the nerves of the grizzled and world-weary Rockwell. It’s a classic dynamic, but it serves the pair well, as their chemistry provides some of the best moments of the movie. The tone is never heavy, but the comedy is always a little understated, which would be fine if it was coming at the service of a stronger plot.


So, what makes it so mediocre, anyway? The problem is that it’s just too simple. I kept waiting for the breezy character introductions to be done and for them to get into the meat and potatoes of the puzzle, but the scenes never get more in depth. The intro is entertaining, but it fails to do what an intro of this nature should do. It does not create any questions in the viewer’s head, except for “whodunnit,” which is the entire point of the movie. The intro should set up plot points that it will later knock down. You should be able to rewatch it again and again, catching all the little details. Everything, the clothes the characters are wearing, the murder weapon, the protagonist’s last words, everything should be important, and yet they aren’t. The mystery’s resolution is way too simple, with only about 3 clues leading up to it, making for a muddled viewing experience looking for anything to grasp onto.

The characters are the selling point. Adrien Brody is top billed, and he does a good job with it. He’s a sleezy narrator, and every scene with him has just the right number of scoff-able lines to make sure you hate him. The detectives are a little bland and surface level, but it’s really a tried-and-true formula of this kind of character pairing. It’s like going to a nice restaurant and getting their version of mac and cheese: it’s going to be pretty simple, and it might not fully show the extent of what these chefs can do, but it will also be one of the best bowls of mac and cheese you’ve ever had.


At the end of the day, most of these critiques I didn’t find in the theater. It’s a very fun movie to watch, even if it might not hold together under critical analysis. If you’re up for a love letter to Christie’s writing, even if it isn’t up to snuff with the source material, go see See How They Run. It’s a 7.5/10, and a solid watch.