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see how the run movie review

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Your enjoyment of “See How They Run” will depend on your appreciation for its two most prominent elements. The first is the genre of the classic British murder mystery and the names associated with those who created them and those who parodied and meta-commented on them. And the second is the genre of meta-commentary itself. There are air quotes and winks at the audience in almost every scene. I’m fine with both, so since the movie is exceptionally well cast and stylishly filmed, I thought it was a hoot. But those who are not well-versed in Agatha Christie and the darkly comic British Kitchen Sink-era responses to her mysteries may find it so arch that it will make their fillings ache. Let me put it this way: If you know what The Mousetrap  is, and especially if you’ve seen it performed, you’ll get a kick out of “See How They Run.” If you don’t recognize the title “The Real Inspector Hound” or if you are allergic to air quotes, maybe not. Consider yourself warned.

The Mousetrap , a play by Agatha Christie, is the longest-running play in history, opening in 1952 in London’s West End and, except for a pause during the pandemic, running ever since with over 28,000 performances. “See How They Run”—the title also connected to literary mice through the nursery rhyme—takes place around the celebration of the 100 th  performance of The Mousetrap , in 1953 London, when an American movie director named Leo Köpernick ( Adrien Brody ) has arrived as a producer is negotiating the film rights to the play. 

Köpernick is a briefly anonymous off-stage narrator who tells us he has not seen The Mousetrap  but he's sure it's a “second rate murder mystery.” If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen one seen them all, he says. They all begin with “an interminable prologue in which all the key players are introduced." You get a sense of the world they inhabit and then the most unlikable character gets bumped off. Cue the entrance of the "world-weary detective" who pokes his nose around, talks to witnesses, takes a couple of wrong turns, then gathers all the suspects together and points to the least likely. Köpernick is in London because he has been blacklisted in Hollywood, and he tells us he has been hired to make the movie marginally less boring than the play. 

In the traditional British mystery, the first murder victim either has no enemies or is loathed by everyone. Köpernick is in that second category. He's murdered backstage, and, on cue, the world-weary, hard-drinking detective arrives, a WWII veteran with a limp. He is Inspector Stoppard ( Sam Rockwell ) and like other names in the film, this one is a meta-reference. The Real Inspector Hound  is an early work by Oscar-winner Tom Stoppard , and, like this film, it's about a theatrical murder mystery and the people connected to it. Just to make sure we get it, at one point a character says, “He was a real hound, Inspector!” Other characters are named for Richard Attenborough , who was in the original cast of Mousetrap  and played the killer in one of the other films referred to, and to " Downton Abbey "'s Julian Fellowes , who elegantly updated the classic British great house murder mystery in “ Gosford Park .”

In keeping with the mid-century setting of the film, the screenplay is best described as “too clever by half.” This reaches its zenith when everyone somehow ends up at the home of Agatha Christie herself (for casual and non-fans, note that her real-life second husband, Max Mallowan, is played by Lucian Msamati ), though the names and Dame Agatha’s interest in poisons are the only real-life connections. 

It all speeds by briskly when it isn’t distracting us with lazy flashbacks and knee-slappers like calling a possible murder “staged” because it is literally on a stage. And the performance and production values are fun for British mystery fans, with Saoirse Ronan , as always, pure joy as the eager young Constable Stalker (those names!) and the cast clearly enjoying having fun with the conventions and archetypes of the genre. There are references to the serial killer film “10 Rillington Place” and, less successfully, to a gruesome real-life murder that may have inspired The Mousetrap . If all of this is sounding like too much work, you should probably stick with the original or with better meta-mysteries like “ Knives Out ” and its upcoming sequel “Glass Onion” and the wildly funny theatrical production The Play that Goes Wrong . 

Still, all the stylishness and enthusiasm cannot disguise the fact that the mystery itself never comes close to those concocted by Dame Agatha. Then again, no one else has topped her either. 

Now playing in theaters.

Nell Minow

Nell Minow is the Contributing Editor at

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See How They Run movie poster

See How They Run (2022)

Rated PG-13 for some violence/bloody images and a sexual reference.

Sam Rockwell as Inspector Stoppard

Saoirse Ronan as Constable Stalker

Adrien Brody as Leo Kopernick

Ruth Wilson as Petula Spencer

Reece Shearsmith as John Woolf

Harris Dickinson as Richard Attenborough

Charlie Cooper as Dennis Corrigan

Pippa Bennett-Warner as Ann Saville

Pearl Chanda as Sheila Sim

Sian Clifford as Edana Romney

Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as Gio

David Oyelowo as Mervyn Cocker-Norris

Shirley Henderson as Agatha Christie

Paul Chahidi as Fellowes

Lucian Msamati as Max Mallowman

Angus Wright as Sgt. Bakewell

Tim Key as Commissioner Harrold Scott

Gregory Cox as Major Metcalf

Maggie McCarthy as Mrs. Boyle

Keiran Hodgson as Harley the Motorcycle Messenger

Ania Marson as Mother

Philip Desmeules as Pierre

Laura Morgan as Joyce

Tolu Ogunmefun as Mr. Lyon

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‘See How They Run’ Review: An Agatha Christie Mystery Spoof

Unraveling a murder case backstage at a Christie play in 1950s London.

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By Teo Bugbee

The whodunit comedy “See How They Run” is set backstage in a 1950s London production of the long-running Agatha Christie play “The Mousetrap.” With a sprightly wit and an all-star cast to bring it to life, the movie manages to be a loving parody of theater gossips, postwar London and Christie’s murder mysteries all at once.

The story is an investigation of the murder of a Hollywood film director, Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody). Leo had been hired to adapt the play, and he was killed in cold blood at the theater, making all the show’s players potential suspects and, they fear, potential future victims. There’s the disgruntled screenwriter, Mervyn (David Oyelowo), the sensitive actor Dickie (Harris Dickinson), and the hard-nosed theater owner (Ruth Wilson). Each has their motives, and an odd couple of detectives are assigned to untangle them. Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) is a jaded veteran, and his apprentice is a movie-loving rookie, Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan).

As a parody, the film is quick to show its appreciation for the genres being spoofed. One charming gag finds Stalker pausing her criminal analysis to praise the virtues of performers who are tangentially mentioned in the course of the investigation. “Rex Harrison, wonderful actor,” she reverently intones.

It’s an endearing bit because the same compliments could be passed along to this film’s decorated cast. The director Tom George gives his performers permission to approach their roles with cake-eating aplomb, and he complements their enthusiasm with campy direction, winking at the audience through title cards, split screens and paisleyed production design. The result is a plummy affair, a proper figgy pudding baked out of once-stale Scotland Yard tropes.

See How They Run Rated PG-13 for brief violence. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. In theaters.

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In a grand theater, Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell, in a fedora) and Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan, in uniform) examine a clue

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See How They Run turns the world’s most famous whodunit into a big meta gag

Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan stick their heads into the mousetrap and find a star-packed mystery

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This review was originally published to coincide with the film’s theatrical release. It has been updated for the digital platform release.

The Mousetrap , Agatha Christie’s famous stage murder mystery, has never been filmed. When Christie signed the film rights over to producer John Woolf, she stipulated that the film could only be made six months after the play closed on the West End. It never has. Still going 70 years after it opened in 1952, The Mousetrap is the longest-running play in history. So the film never came to be.

That piece of trivia is a plot point in See How They Run , a game little meta-whodunit steeped in London theater lore. It’s also the origin story of the movie itself, if you believe the tale producer Damian Jones spins in the production notes. Jones was considering filming the play, he says, but when he discovered Christie had thwarted him, he saw a way to not just circumvent this obstacle, but to turn it to his advantage: He resolved to create a fictional whodunit about the whodunit, and turn the film rights themselves into one of the cogs in its murderous machine.

See How They Run , written by Mark Chappell and directed by Tom George, turns Christie inside out and upside down, and has a good laugh at the undignified spectacle that process creates. It satirizes the creaking mechanisms of the genre even as it leans on them. It’s an in-joke of a movie, and a pretty good one, enlivened by a terrific cast. But George and Chappell are a little too in love with their own postmodern cleverness, and not concerned enough with constructing as knotty and satisfying a mystery as, say, Rian Johnson’s whetstone-sharpened Knives Out .

A cast of various characters in 1950s formal wear look surprised in glitzy art deco surroundings. One of them is covered in cake.

The setup is wonderfully wicked, though. On the occasion of The Mousetrap ’s 100th performance — in the real world, it has now run more than 27,500 times — the cast, led by Richard “Dickie” Attenborough (Harris Dickinson), assembles for a party. Film producer Woolf (Reece Shearsmith) is there, along with Leo Kopernick (Adrien Brody), an odious, blacklisted Hollywood director Woolf has hired to make the film of the play. Supercilious playwright Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo) is tasked with the screenplay adaptation. Theater impresario Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson) simmers on the sidelines. Everyone’s a bit testy, for various reasons, and Kopernick and Attenborough get into a fistfight. At the end of the night, Kopernick turns up dead on stage. Can the show go on?

Given the production’s history, there’s a mischievous playfulness to this premise — and that’s before the police turn up. World-weary functioning alcoholic Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) has been paired with awkward but zealous new recruit Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) to solve the case. They don’t get any help, because the rest of the murder squad is focusing on the real-world, much darker, Rillington Place murders . Compared to those, this theaterland killing is just a bit of fun.

The wit and double-sided delicacy of this detail — underlining the innocuous silliness of the proceedings, while rooting them in a real time and place — is typical of what See How They Run offers, and it’s one of the movie’s principal pleasures. It’s more fun guessing which figures are caricatures of real people and which are cartoonish inventions than it is trying to figure out who the murderer is.

John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith), Petula Spencer (Rita Wilson), and Ann Saville (Pippa Bennett-Warner) look out from behind Woolf’s grand, shiny desk

A couple of late-film cameos play into this warped reality for a hilarious, audacious payoff. The production design walks a similar line, creating a heightened, glitzy 1950s London with a surprisingly authentic texture. (The producers’ opportunism strikes again: The film was shot during the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave the production access to some of London’s grandest theaters and hotels to shoot in, as they were shuttered for lockdown.)

See How They Run works better as an outright comedy than as a murder mystery, although it doesn’t nail either form. Chappell’s script is loaded with tasty barbs, painful puns, and gently mocking characterization. George, a seasoned director of British TV comedy, knows how to set gags up and pay them off. But there’s a halting rhythm to it, and scenes sometimes coast too long in an airless haze in between jokes. Comedy, with its dependence on chemistry among the cast, must have been one of the hardest genres to shoot under pandemic conditions.

The cast ends up with the credit. Ronan, as the charmingly sincere Stalker, executes her comic bits with flawless timing and gets the biggest laughs without ever going broad or breaking character. Stalker’s credulous naiveté starts out as a joke — she notes down anything anyone says, and believes the case closed after every interview — but in Ronan’s hands becomes an endearing kind of heroism.

Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) talk in a small blue police car outside the Savoy Hotel

Contrasting her brightness with Rockwell’s jaded, mumbling Stoppard is right out of the buddy-cop playbook, but Rockwell’s amusingly underplayed turn complements Ronan’s perfectly. Stoppard just lets the hijinks happen around him with a shrug, and is somehow funnier for being such a stoic straight man.

Dickinson’s take on Attenborough is a riot, skewering a certain kind of genteel, leading-man fatuousness. The secondary cast is a murderer’s row of British TV and theater pros: people like Sian Clifford ( Fleabag ), Lucian Msamati ( Game of Thrones ), Tim Key (the various Alan Partridge projects), and Shirley Henderson (Harry Potter), who can pull off loving yet savage characterizations in the space of a couple of lines, and make it look effortless.

See How They Run is a lark, a self-referential sendup of theatrical and cinematic artifice. The trouble is, like most larks of its kind, it uses self-mockery as a get-out clause. There’s a voice-over from Adrien Brody as Kopernick, the deceased director, who disdainfully picks apart the cliches and rudimentary constructions of the whodunit genre from beyond the grave, moments before they appear on screen. His own basic Hollywood instincts are similarly mocked one moment and deployed the next. Having a character point out your film’s flaws doesn’t really excuse them. But it doesn’t invalidate the film’s pleasures, either. See How They Run is neither as clever as the creators think it is, nor as stupid as it sometimes pretends to be. It doesn’t have much to say about whodunits other than “Wouldn’t it be funny if they existed inside their own world?” And yes, it turns out, it would.

See How They Run is now available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon , Vudu , and other digital platforms.

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See How They Run Reviews

see how the run movie review

[It] offers a well-mounted, sparkling murder-mystery supported by a glorious cast and peppered with fun ripostes.

Full Review | Oct 4, 2023

see how the run movie review

A light-hearted watch packed with charm and a stacked talented cast, we can forgive most of its mistakes because, yes, it is just that delightful.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Aug 18, 2023

see how the run movie review

Whatever may not work about the film is redressed by Saoirse Ronan's impeccable work here, and whatever does is only amplified by her presence. Without her, it's a fun bit of Sunday afternoon fluff. With her, it's a total must-see.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Aug 4, 2023

see how the run movie review

Saoirse Ronan sparks a very bright light onto the film, showcasing her polished and well-timed comedic chops; but as soon as she’s not on-screen, it falls flat quickly.

Full Review | Original Score: C- | Jul 29, 2023

see how the run movie review

Ultimately, See How They Run is a solid ride. To those who find the recent influx of meta genre flicks to be exhausting, See How They Run will not come across as charming. It will feel tedious in its insistence that the film is clever beyond imagination.

Full Review | Jul 24, 2023

see how the run movie review

While it’s no masterpiece, it’s a solid, fun, flashy, meta whodunit with a deliriously enjoyable soundtrack from Daniel Pemberton.

Full Review | Jul 23, 2023

see how the run movie review

So what we have here is a fizzy, enjoyable, modestly ambitious outing with some finely detailed period set design and visual style quirks that help keep us engaged.

Full Review | Jul 3, 2023

A pure Whodunit... that reintroduces us into the solvent narrative structure just like Knives Out (2019) did recently. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Dec 16, 2022

The ending payoff is as predictable as they come, and the movie’s lack of emotional weight ultimately works against it. In a year with several whodunnits, this one may, unfortunately, be the weakest.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/10 | Nov 30, 2022

Thanks to a cleverly constructed screenplay and a dynamic double act in Rockwell and Ronan... See How They Run is sure to both mystify and delight all whodunnit devotees.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Nov 30, 2022

see how the run movie review

Saoirse Ronan should take a bow. She steals this film and makes me smile.

Full Review | Nov 16, 2022

see how the run movie review

The type of whodunit that used to be described as a good yarn, back when you could say "simply a good time at the movies" and it wouldn’t sound cheap or unconvincing.

Full Review | Original Score: B | Nov 14, 2022

see how the run movie review

A whodunit with plenty of suspense where the focus is on the funny interactions of the detectives.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Nov 12, 2022

See How They Run never portrays itself as a great film in a similar genre, it tells a fan fiction spoof story with conviction and never deviates from its common objective of providing wholesome entertainment.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Nov 11, 2022

see how the run movie review

If you have a soft spot for period whodunits, then you may have some fun with this stylish, well-cast piece that mostly comes off as an appetizer for The Glass Onion.

Full Review | Nov 10, 2022

see how the run movie review

Too tepid for too long, even if it tries to make some decisions late to spice it up enough to matter.

see how the run movie review

Beautiful costumes and setting, with a story told with so much charm.

Full Review | Nov 9, 2022

see how the run movie review

An absolute delight!

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Nov 6, 2022

see how the run movie review

With a focus on two unlikely young coppers instead of the pompous potential victims, this riff on Agatha Christie measures up to farcical fun

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Oct 28, 2022

see how the run movie review

I think it’ll be more successful for you if you’ve only seen three or four other movies.

Full Review | Oct 27, 2022

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‘See How They Run’ Review: Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell Team Up for a Snappy Retro-Kitsch Murder Comedy

A performance of Agatha Christie's long-running stage smash 'The Mousetrap' yields a backstage murder mystery of its own in this most enjoyable all-star comedy.

By Amy Nicholson

Amy Nicholson

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See How They Run

Agatha Christie, master of deduction, was wrong only once. When her play “The Mousetrap” opened in London in 1952, she reckoned it would last eight months. 70 years later, the unkillable production lives on — even Covid only clipped it for 14 months — and yet, the actual plot of the longest-running show in theater history makes most people draw a blank. This is due to two clauses in Christie’s contract: First, every night, the actors order the audience to keep the story secret, and second, every movie producer who wants to turn the play into a film is told they must wait until the end of its run, which at this point may be never.

Popular on Variety

Gauntlet thrown. “See How They Run” is a retro homage that surprises audiences with giggles and suspense. Chappell’s script pits old-fashioned Christie-style chills against the hip gunplay that Köpernick claims will excite Eisenhower-era squares. (Köpernick’s ideas are destined to become the action flick status quo.) In flashbacks, he pitches his take on updating the whodunnit to the unswayable Melvyn (David Oyelowo), a traditionalist who clings so stubbornly to the past that he still pronounces the word “penchant” as though he believes it’s 1066 and England’s official language is French.

While the real-life London producers of “The Mousetrap” credit its perennial success to the fact that it’s performed without a drop of irony, George and Chappell give their cast’s deadpan line deliveries a light layer of modern gloss. We’re meant to snort at the subtext when Melvyn introduces his live-in Italian lover (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) as his, er, nephew, or chuckle when a police commissioner (Tim Key) declares himself a feminist modernizer, and then asks Ronan to fetch him a tea.

Sometimes, the joke is on “The Mousetrap” itself, which is presented as stiff and stagey. Whenever any of the film’s characters attempt to sit through it, they quickly make excuses to leave. A better Wile E. Coyote-style gag takes place in the wings, when a person in peril attempts to fend off the killer by flinging ceramic vases, which turn out to be plaster props that crumble harmlessly. Mostly, though, George and Chappell enjoy watching these artistic hotheads bicker about their differing story-telling philosophies, debates that allow the filmmakers to pluck sample gimmicks — time stamps, close-ups of pistols, country house clichés — and re-insert them into their own movie as a meta-prank.

As the plot quickens, editors Gary Dollner and Peter Lambert divide the screen into two pieces, then three, then four. Their cutting is brisk and fanciful, and, during a standout dream sequence, marvelously illogical. Meanwhile, composer Daniel Pemberton unleashes a jazzy upright bass to climb up and down the scales.

Still, the film is firmly in the pocket of Rockwell and Ronan as the odd pair working to solve the carnage. Rockwell’s shambling detective is all kinetic energy: He drinks, he limps, he slams his coat in car doors, and at one point, skids to his knees. Ronan is so aquiver with nervous excitement that she continually chokes out nonsensical lines that zoom almost under the radar. (She explains that she quit her secretary career for the police academy because she “hates the sight of blood.”) George gets Ronan in such a tizzy that we are poised to see her panic just from the snap of a pencil tip.

Reviewed in Los Angeles, Aug. 31, 2022. Running time: 98 MIN.

  • Production: A Searchlight Pictures presentation. Producers: Gina Carter, Damian Jones. Executive producers: Katie Goodson, Richard Ruiz.
  • Crew: Director: Tom George. Screenplay: Mark Chappell. Camera: Jamie Ramsay. Editors: Gary Dollner, Peter Lambert. Music: Daniel Pemberton.
  • With: Saoirse Ronan, Sam Rockwell, Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Harris Dickinson, Shirley Henderson, Sian Clifford.

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‘See How They Run’ Review: Saoirse Ronan Charms in Mostly Humdrum Whodunit

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Everyone’s a suspect in a good murder mystery, but that doesn’t always mean more is more. While a large ensemble leaves more room for speculation, the delight of such a grandiose setup lies in having a wide array of interesting characters. Hoping to capitalize on the runaway success of 2019’s “Knives Out,” Searchlight has made its own star-studded whodunit, “ See How They Run .” Taking a literal page from Agatha Christie, the movie sets its intrigue during a 1952 West End run of “The Mousetrap” as movie producers circle the hit play.

With a flashy period aesthetic that can only be described as Wes Anderson-lite and a played-out insider Hollywood plot, “See How They Run” packs a lot of characters into a thin story that leaves little room for the considerable talent to stand out. It may be inspired by the greatest mystery writer of all time, but it’s an uninspired copy at best.

As our smooth-talking narrator and primary murder victim, hot-shot American movie director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody) sets expectations low. “It’s a whodunit,” he says to the audience, hoping to charm them with winking exposition. “You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.” Loosely filling a tuxedo as only Brody could, Leo casually recounts the night that led to his murder, having no trouble provoking multiple partygoers at the play’s 100th performance celebration. When he heads backstage for a new change of clothes after a drunken tussle, he’s attacked by a shadowy figure in a trench coat and soft felt hat. With such little description to go on, everyone’s a suspect.

There’s the movie’s producer John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith), who’s trying to broker peace between Leo and screenwriter Mervyn (David Oyelowo), who doesn’t take kindly to the director’s flashy story ideas. Christie isn’t the only real person to make the cut: The movie features actress Sheila Sim (Pearl Chanda), wife of the late great Richard Attenborough (Harris Dickinson), who ends up face down in a cake after defending his wife’s honor from Leo’s advances. Other sundry suspects include theater owner Petula (Ruth Wilson), hot-headed Italian boy toy Gio (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd), the producer’s secretary and girlfriend Ann (Pippa Bennett-Warner), and his aggrieved wife Edana (“Fleabag” star Sian Clifford).

Pearl Chanda and Adrien Brody in

But the real stars of the movie are the odd couple police duo tasked with untangling the bloody mess. Bearing a name to please thespians, the case is assigned to Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell), a weathered detective whose process includes many thinking breaks at the pub. Much to his chagrin, he’s paired with enthusiastic youngster Constable Stalker ( Saoirse Ronan ). A fresh-faced novice who’s anxiously studying for her sergeant’s exams, Stalker takes everything Stoppard says to heart, scribbling diligent notes in her little red notebook. As charming with comedy as she is compelling in dramas, Ronan is the only one who manages to eke out an interesting character from the broad sketches the script offers its actors.

Not for lack of trying. There are plenty of cheeky theater witticisms in Mark Chappell’s script that probably read well on paper, but don’t quite sing on the screen. “What possible reason would I have for strangling a playwright?” one accused suspect asks. “I haven’t seen anything he’s done.” And of course, there are little Shakespearean clues like, “Maybe the play’s the thing that ties it all together.” One can almost hear a wry chuckle off camera when Dickie Attenborough admits “The Mouse Trap” is “not exactly Hamlet.”

In classic Christie style, the whole group eventually ends up at the same house on a snowy night, lured by a false invitation to The Dame herself’s (Shirley Henderson) home. Once they’re all together in a room, a certain comedic chemistry begins to simmer, but it’s over almost as soon as it begins. If the play really was the thing, Chappell and director Tom George might have borrowed more liberally from Christie and set the whole thing in a single location instead of sending his detectives all around town on a wild goose chase. As Stoppard and Stalker chase down each lead, giving each character their own scene, the tension has no choice but to dissipate. Thrown all together, one can sense a kind of theatrical alchemy that might have been possible if given more time.

The mystery ends with a satisfying enough twist, hinted at throughout but not entirely predictable. The real protagonist and heroine, Stalker gets her triumphant epiphany, though the men around her barely recognize her brilliance. For a movie about the most successful woman writer of all time, there sure are a lot of brash, confident men being told what to do by one rule-following woman. If the play’s the thing, someone should have read it more closely.

A Searchlight Pictures release, “See How They Run” opens in theaters on Friday, September 16.

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‘See How They Run’ review: Saoirse Ronan charms in this mousetrap of a murder-mystery

Movie review.

“See How They Run” is the Saoirse Ronan show. Start to finish. Top to bottom, Now and forever.

The 28-year-old actor dominates the picture more completely than any performer in any movie in recent memory. In the role of a London constable working to unravel a knotty murder mystery, she’s winsome, whimsical, unfailingly chipper and funny. Above all: funny.

With a frankly adorable Scottish accent and big cornflower blue eyes, she creates a character who is a total charmer. Eager, observant, star-struck (the murder victims are from the worlds of the stage and the movies), whip-smart and ever upbeat, her Constable Stalker is tasked to work with a fedora-wearing veteran Scotland Yard inspector named Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) who views her with weary bemusement. It’s 1953, and a woman in a major investigatory role in a high-profile case is just not the sort of thing that was done in those days. But his boss the commissioner insists (in the script’s nod to as-yet unfledged feminism), so Stoppard is obliged to swallow his grumbles and go along. 

The character’s name alludes to playwright Tom Stoppard, whose 1968 play “The Real Inspector Hound” is a parody of “The Mousetrap.”

The setting is London’s West End where the 100 th  performance of Agatha Christie’s hit stage whodunit “The Mousetrap” is being feted. (The play is still being performed in the West End to this day, making it the longest-running play in theatrical history.)

On scene among the performers and the backstage glitterati is Hollywood director Leo Köpernick played by Adrien Brody. He’s in town to help secure the rights to the play so he can turn it into a movie. He’s crass and cynical beyond all measure. In other words, thoroughly American in the disdainful appraisal of the Brits.

He knows what he is and glories in his crudity. He also provides a running commentary on the goings-on in the early going, from beyond the grave as it were. In murder mysteries of the Christie variety, “The most unlikable character gets bumped off,” he observes, and sure enough off he is bumped before too long. Enter Stalker and Stoppard, and the game’s afoot.

Because Köpernick was such an offensive cad, everyone hated his guts, and so everyone is a suspect: the playwright (David Oyelowo), the play’s haughty impresario (Ruth Wilson), the lead actor (Harris Dickinson) who answers to the name of Dickie Attenborough and was a real-life theatrical figure who played the police detective sergeant in “The Mousetrap” in its opening run. Later in life, he became a prominent figure in film, directing “Gandhi” and “A Chorus Line” among others and acting in ever so many movies, including “Jurassic Park.”

As they’re all suspicious characters, Constable Stalker thinks each in turn has done it. Busily taking down their every word and movement in an ever-present notebook, she chirps to Stoppard that obviously this one did it, then that one. He sags slightly each time, giving her a baleful look until she abashedly admits to jumping to conclusions. It’s a running gag and consistently laugh-out-loud funny.

She’s initially respectful of her veteran partner, but then her admiration cools when it becomes obvious he’s an alcoholic of the quiet, falling-down-drunk variety. Rockwell’s performance is a subtle one and he’s the perfect foil for the sprightly upbeat Ronan. His accent, however, is uncertain, not quite British, not quite American.

In his feature directorial debut, Tom George, a veteran of BBC television comedies working from a screenplay by Mark Chappell, has a light touch. The pace is quick. The interweaving of actual “Mousetrap” period history and fictional elements is deft. And the settings, many of them filmed in actual West End theaters that were closed during the pandemic, are elegant.

A most delightful comedy, thanks above all to Ronan.

With Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, David Oyelowo, Charlie Cooper, Pippa Bennett-Warner. Directed by Tom George. 98 minutes. PG-13 for some violence/bloody images and a sexual reference. Opens Sept. 16 at multiple theaters.

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See how they run, common sense media reviewers.

see how the run movie review

Comic mystery keeps you guessing; drinking, violence, peril.

See How They Run Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Don't jump to conclusions. Typical for whodunits,

Detective trainee demonstrates curiosity, integrit

The film revolves around an actual 1950s Agatha Ch

Shooting, strangling, dead bodies. Some blood, but

Kissing. Talk of infidelity.

A couple of instances of "ass," "bastard," "goddam

Heavy drinking. A couple of characters are drunk,

Parents need to know that See How They Run , which stars Saoirse Ronan, deconstructs the whodunit by creating a fictional murder mystery while filmmakers work to adapt an actual Agatha Christie play into a movie. It's a brilliant way of introducing the elements of writing a murder mystery. Expect violent…

Positive Messages

Don't jump to conclusions. Typical for whodunits, carries the message that you can't get away with murder.

Positive Role Models

Detective trainee demonstrates curiosity, integrity, and a strong work ethic. Constable Stalker demonstrates perseverance and i ntegrity . While not the main character, the inimitable author Agatha Christie is present, and the screenplay is a love letter to her impressiveness.

Diverse Representations

The film revolves around an actual 1950s Agatha Christie stage production; contemporary actors play the real people performing it at the time. They are all White, but the cast also features a Black writer (who's also possibly gay) and his roommate/partner. An interracial relationship is a workplace romance with an uneven power dynamic. Main character is female; the challenges of women entering male-dominated fields is addressed. The most powerful character is Agatha Christie, an older woman who's one of the most successful and celebrated mystery authors of all time.

Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.

Violence & Scariness

Shooting, strangling, dead bodies. Some blood, but it's not gory. Physical fighting with pushing and shoving. Close-up of victim's face in distress as they're being killed.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

A couple of instances of "ass," "bastard," "goddammit," and "horses--t."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Heavy drinking. A couple of characters are drunk, but it's not shown in a favorable light.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that See How They Run , which stars Saoirse Ronan , deconstructs the whodunit by creating a fictional murder mystery while filmmakers work to adapt an actual Agatha Christie play into a movie. It's a brilliant way of introducing the elements of writing a murder mystery. Expect violent moments: Strangling, shooting, and struggles are intense, and there's some blood. There's kissing and drinking (sometimes to excess); language includes "goddamn," "horses--t," and references to infidelity. It's set in the 1950s, and the cast of the play-within-the-film is all White, but filmmakers make nods to diversity in the form of a Black screenwriter, a mother taking on a career in a traditionally male field, and the suggestion of a gay relationship. Classic cinema fans will eat this one up like buttery popcorn, as the real cast of the 1953 West End production, including the likes of legendary actor Richard Attenborough , are made into characters/suspects. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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  • Parents say (3)
  • Kids say (7)

Based on 3 parent reviews

Well made comedy romp.

A great who dunnit., what's the story.

In SEE HOW THEY RUN, a 1953 West End production of Agatha Christie 's The Mousetrap is hosting a Hollywood entourage working to adapt the play into a film. When a murder occurs backstage, a detective ( Sam Rockwell ) and his trainee ( Saoirse Ronan ) work to solve it quickly, before the killer can strike again.

Is It Any Good?

This is one of the cleverest murder mysteries to hit the big screen. That's because, as it tells you how a whodunit works while you're simultaneously trying to solve a whodunit, it makes your brain soar into super-active thinking. And yet, you'll still never guess who did it. The project's genesis stems from the realization of why one of Christie's most successful works -- the play The Mousetrap -- was never adapted into a film. Notable producer John Woolf ( The African Queen , Oliver! ) had secured the rights, but there was one limiting clause: "production can begin six months after the play closes." And it so happens that The Mousetrap has played in the West End continuously since 1952, so production has never been viable. Jumping off from that point, the film starts in 1953, shortly after the contract was signed, when those involved assumed it would eventually close. Woolf (Reece Shearsmith), his screenwriter, and his director are in London naively getting their pre-production underway, only to have the theater production interrupted by its own murder mystery.

Because of this setup, viewers will realize that the characters are intentionally "types," like "the world-weary detective" and "the female rookie." But they're made three-dimensional through fantastic writing, excellent performances, and top-notch direction and editing. Having real life icons Attenborough and Christie as characters adds to the fun, as well as to the mystery. Could a real-life famous actor be the killer? In many ways it feels like director Tom George has created the most exciting fan fiction of all time, a smart comedy, and a master class in creative writing all in one.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the elements of a murder mystery. How does See How They Run compare to other whodunits you've seen?

Would you classify this as historical fiction or fan fiction? Why?

How does Constable Stalker demonstrate perseverance and i ntegrity ? Why are those important character traits?

"Don't jump to conclusions" is a recurring message -- both for Constable Stalker and for the audience trying to solve the mystery. Why is this good advice in real life?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : September 16, 2022
  • On DVD or streaming : November 1, 2022
  • Cast : Saoirse Ronan , Sam Rockwell , Adrien Brody
  • Director : Tom George
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors
  • Studios : Searchlight Pictures , Disney
  • Genre : Comedy
  • Topics : Book Characters
  • Character Strengths : Curiosity , Perseverance
  • Run time : 98 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG-13
  • MPAA explanation : some violence/bloody images and a sexual reference
  • Last updated : July 11, 2023

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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See how they run (2022) - movie review.

See How They Run

“Don’t jump to conclusions.”

Well, it’s a whodunnit. When you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, right? Well, that’s at least how our narrator, American film director Leo Kopernick ( Adrien Brody ), puts it in the opening sequence of See How They Run . And while, to a certain degree, Kopernick’s remarks are true, director Tom George and writer Mark Chappell have brought a cute, clever, and charming addition to the whodunnit genre that keeps the audience engaged and entertained.

It’s 1953 in London, and Kopernick has his sights on directing an adaptation of the Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap after its successful run on the West End, starring Richard Attenborough ( Harris Dickinson ) and Sheila Sim ( Pearl Chanda ). But during a party after the 100th performance of the play, Kopernick gets into with a few of the guests, including Attenborough, and gets killed backstage. After his body is planted onto the set…or rather is staged (the movie made the joke, I didn’t, okay?!), a veteran/drunk officer, Inspector Stoppard ( Sam Rockwell ) and the novice/eager officer, Constable Stalker ( Saoirse Ronan ) are tasked with solving the mystery. But, of course, something like this is never so simple to solve.

See How They Run

With a talented cast sporting their eccentric roles, the comedic performances are as strong as they can be. Ronan, however, is clearly the shining standout in her supporting role as she is the story’s most relatable, sympathetic, and funny character in the entire film. Despite it being her first ever comedic role, Ronan shows that she can transfer her acclaimed dramatic talents to this genre with a great ease.

The only real thing I would fault the picture for is the flamboyant gay writer Mervyn Cocker-Norris ( David Oyelowo ) and his boyfriend (though their relationship is never directly addressed, of course) come across as perhaps too silly and digging way too much into the ridiculous stereotypes of being difficult and sensitive. While the film is obviously not outright making a purposefully derogatory depiction, I do fear that there is the unfortunate opportunity that this depiction can come across as offensive to some.

But overall, See How They Run is a movie that is just a good time. Also starring Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Harris Dickinson, Charlie Cooper, Shirley Henderson , and more, this film is quick, entertaining, has its heartfelt moments, has a decent amount of fire-y action, and is quite funny. If you get the chance, kick back and have a nice time with a good old-fashioned murder mystery for your Saturday Matinee.

See How They Run is now playing in theaters.

4/5 stars

See How They Run

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence/bloody images and a sexual reference. Runtime: 98 mins Director : Tom George Writer: Mark Chappell Cast: Kieran Hodgson; Pearl Chanda; Gregory Cox Genre : Comedy | Mystery Tagline: The greatest murder ever staged. Memorable Movie Quote: "Let's not jump to conclusions, Constable." Theatrical Distributor: Searchlight Pictures Official Site: Release Date: September 16, 2022. DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: Synopsis : 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.

See How They Run

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See How They Run Review

See How They Run

09 Sep 2022

See How They Run

See How They Run  is built on a simple but delicious premise: a whodunnit buried inside an actual whodunnit, in this case Agatha Christie’s  The Mousetrap . It not only gives Tom George’s film many genres to satirise — it’s a backstage drama, crime potboiler, police procedural all wrapped up in a farce — but it allows for a knowing, self-referential quality that brings the conceits and conventions of the murder-mystery to the fore. It doesn’t completely work, but it’s fast, funny and frequently stylish, topped off with great work by Sam Rockwell and especially Saoirse Ronan .

see how the run movie review

Mark Chappell’s screenplay does a nifty job of affectionately embroidering the story’s madcap malarkey with real nuggets pulled from British film and theatre lore. Chief among them is the little-known fact that Christie (embodied briefly by Shirley Henderson ) inserted a clause into her  Mousetrap  contract that decreed no film version could be made until six months after the play had ended its theatrical run. The detail gives a plausible motive for a host of engaging characters to sabotage either the stage or film version via the murder of movie director Leo Köpernick ( Adrien Brody , who also narrates) backstage at the Ambassadors.

The real joy of the film is the rapport between the investigating plods, Sam Rockwell’s cynical Stoppard and Saoirse Ronan’s newbie WPC Stalker.

On the theatrical side we have impresario Petula ‘Choo’ Spencer ( Ruth Wilson ), actors Richard Attenborough (a terrific Harris Dickinson , who gets the young Dickie’s voice down pat) and Sheila Sim (Pearl Chanda). Among the movie suspects are mogul John Woolf ( Reece Shearsmith , playing the actual producer of  The African Queen ), his wife Edana Romney (Sian Clifford) and celebrated (read: overrated) screenwriter Mervyn Cocker-Norris ( David Oyelowo ). The cast attack the mayhem with gusto but the whodunnit element ultimately loses its grip, the revelation of the killer less than satisfying.

see how the run movie review

There’s a knowing, meta quality to the screenplay — a bemoaning of flashbacks as a hoary device crash-cuts to a title-card “Three Months Earlier” — and sometimes it feels too winky-winky. As such,  See How They Run  works best when it’s leaning into old-school wordplay, visual whimsy and strong gags (“Which part of France are you from?” “Belgium”). Debutant feature director Tom George cut his teeth on lo-fi BBC Three mockumentary  This Country  — Charlie Cooper shows up as a dimwit usher — but elevates his ambition here. There are shades of Wes Anderson in the stylisation ( The Grand Budapest Hotel  looms large) and hints of Edgar Wright in the emphatic cutting but George makes it his own, neatly evincing ’50s London’s different atmospheres and moving things along at a fair old lick.

But the real joy of the film is the rapport between the investigating plods, Sam Rockwell’s cynical Stoppard (there’s a running joke about coppers named after playwrights) and Saoirse Ronan’s newbie WPC Stalker. Rockwell brings grizzled, Walter Matthau-type charm to the inspector but it’s Ronan who shines brightest as an over-eager, by-the-notebook constable, star-struck by the suspects and taking everything at face value. They make such an enjoyable duo, in fact, that the further investigations of Stoppard and Stalker would be very much welcome.

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See How They Run

Movies | 29 06 2022

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see how the run movie review

  • DVD & Streaming

See How They Run

  • Comedy , Crime , Mystery/Suspense

Content Caution

See How They Run 2022

In Theaters

  • September 16, 2022
  • Sam Rockwell as Inspector Stoppard; Saoirse Ronan as Constable Stalker; Adrien Brody as Leo Köpernick; Ruth Wilson as Petula Spencer; Reece Shearsmith as John Woolf; Harris Dickinson as Richard Attenborough; David Oyelowo as Mervyn Cocker-Norris; Charlie Cooper as Dennis the Usher; Shirley Henderson as the Dame; Pippa Bennett-Warner as Ann Saville; Pearl Chanda as Sheila Sim; Paul Chahidi as Fellowes; Sian Clifford as Edana Romney; Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as Gio; Lucian Msamati as Max Mallowan; Tim Key as Commissioner Harrold Scott

Home Release Date

  • October 5, 2022


  • Focus Searchlight

Movie Review

Murder is big business.

Just ask Agatha Christie, grand dame of the English murder mystery. Just ask the ushers for her very own 1953 stage sensation The Mousetrap .

Murder She Wrote ? Murder She Earned is more like it.

But as The Mousetrap’ s actors and producers toasted the play’s 100 th performance, Christie wasn’t the only one making a killing.

The stage production was such a success that a movie was in the works. Sure, the rights stipulated that filming couldn’t begin until the West End play had been shuttered for at least six months. But no matter: The public is fickle, and they’d soon be moving on to other distractions. The days of every stage production are numbered, just as sure as those of an unlikeable Christie character are.

But the track from stage to screen rarely runs as smoothly as the Orient Express. And Leo Köpernick, the hot-shot Hollywood director contracted to bring The Mousetrap to American movie houses, had some changes in mind. More sex! More violence! More everything!

Perhaps Leo’s desire to twist a cherished piece of stagecraft was the reason why, a few hours later, he was found dead—killed, it seems, by …            a sewing machine. Though dispatched in the theater’s wardrobe area, his body had been dragged on stage and positioned on the couch.

“Staged, as it were,” quips the young, enthusiastic Constable Stalker.

But Leo had made other enemies for other reasons. Then again, perhaps the killer had not been after Leo as much as The Mousetrap itself—a desire, perhaps, to shut down the play for the sake of the movie, or perhaps to extinguish the movie for the sake of the play.

But whatever the motive, a murderer is afoot. And it’s up to Stalker and her world-weary superior, Inspector Stoppard, to bring the ruffian to justice.

Murder may be big business. But it’s a bloody business indeed.

Positive Elements

It’s been said that the murder mystery is one of the most moral forms of storytelling: It may take a couple hundred pages or so, but ultimately the killer is brought to justice. Order overcomes chaos, good overcomes evil, and everyone has a nice spot of tea.

But, of course, for a mystery to find its tidy conclusion requires quite a bit of work. And that work lands, in this case, on Inspector Stoppard and Constable Stalker.

Stalker is certainly the more enthusiastic officer. The single mother wants to solve the crime and bring its perpetrators to justice in the worst way—even if she sometimes goes about solving the mystery in the worst ways herself. She can let her zeal get the best of her sometimes.

Thankfully, Inspector Stoppard curbs the young officer’s more spontaneous instincts, leavening them with introspective thought. He encourages her not to jump to conclusions (and Stalker, the ever-conscientious note-taker, writes “DON’T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS” in her notebook). Ultimately, the two shepherd the case to a satisfying conclusion.

Spiritual Elements

Not much, though we do hear a reference to “theatrical purgatory.” We also hear a rendition of Hank Williams’ rendition of “I Saw the Light,” which is littered with spiritual references.

Sexual Content

Agatha Christie wasn’t one to put a lot of unnecessary titillation in her work, and this homage/spoof to her and her work follows suit—to a point. While certainly intimate relations are potential motives for murder, we don’t see those intimacies play out explicitly on camera.

That said, movie producer John Woolf does canoodle with his assistant, Ann. (We see them lightly flirt and embrace on screen, and Woolf talks about divorcing his current wife.) Mervyn Cocker-Norris, The Mousetrap’s would-be screenplay writer is in a relationship with another man (it’s suggested) named Gio. (Given the 1953 setting, Mervyn unconvincingly tells others that Gio is his “cousin”.) We learn that Inspector Stoppard’s wife cheated on him; he only learns of the affair when his wife ends up pregnant with another guy’s baby.

Leo is presented as a first-class cad. He tells us that British women “go wild for an American accent and a promise of a pair of nylons.” (Constable Stalker seems to at least half-confirm that assertation; She holds up a bit of hosery in his hotel room as he an the inspector search for clues, and she gasps in appreciation.) Leo also flirts with a married woman. His “little black book” is filled with apparent paramours, and we learn that Leo fathered a child out of wedlock.

Inspector Stoppard occasionally is shown in his underwear. And Leo accidentally includes a drawing of an apparently naked woman (shown from the back) in a storyboard presentation.

Violent Content

“The modern audience will walk out in protest if we don’t give them at least one violent death in the opening frame!” Leo shouts at Mervyn.

Fittingly, then, we see one violent death in the opening frame.

Leo’s fight with his killer takes longer than a standard stage intermission, with the murderer first thwacking the guy with a ski. “It was all downhill from there,” Stalker later notes, and so it was. The camera turns away before Leo receives the fatal sewing-machine blow, but we do see his bloodied, dead body on stage later. We’re told that someone apparently tried to rip Leo’s tongue out.

To avoid spoilers, we’ll make the rest of this section somewhat perfunctory. But we see people punched, strangled, poisoned, rolled into carpets, shot, thwacked with snow shovels, beaned with sandbags and pushed into cakes. Threats are hurled. Fires are set. Scripts are ripped.

Crude or Profane Language

Miss Marple would not approve. Two s-words are uttered, along with a smattering of other profanities, including “a–,” “b–tard”, “h—” and variations of the British profanity “bloody.” God’s name is misused about 10 times, at least twice pairing it with “d–n.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

Champagne flowed during The Mousetrap 100 th performance celebration, but champagne wasn’t strong enough for Leo. So he stuffs a bit of money into an usher’s pocket and says, “Why don’t you scare me up a real drink, kid?” (We later see that the usher has returned with a bottle of Scotch.)

While on the case, Inspector Stoppard lies to Stalker—telling her that he’s going to the dentist when, in fact, he’s going to a nearby pub. (He drinks at least two glasses of gin while there.) Later, he and Stalker go out to another pub to discuss the case. Stoppard gets seriously plastered, and Stalker has to drive him home and help him to his apartment.

Woolf—who produced The African Queen some years before—tells a story about how both stars (Humphry Bogart and Katharine Hepburn) refused to brush their teeth with water while filming in Africa: The quality of the water was poor, so they brushed their teeth using bourbon instead.

We see characters drink wine, martinis and a bevy of other alcoholic beverages. Stoppard tries to conceal his own drinking with mints. Someone is described as having been as “intoxicated as a newt.”

Other Negative Elements

Lying is a part of most murder mysteries, and so it is in this one. Lies are told about a great many things, and not just about murder. You could say that the film is filled with death and denial. (Get it? De Nile ? Never mind.)

We hear that Leo was blacklisted as a suspected communist.

Yes, murder is big business. In entertainment, it’s always been big. Even the classical Greek playwright Aeschylus saw a winner in losing one’s life—penning a trio of plays (the Oresteia) centering on a pair of noteworthy murders.

But those ancient Greeks never showed people getting killed on stage. As the ill-fated Leo Köpernick could tell us, we live in different times.

Still, for a movie centered on murder, See How They Run feels like a winking return to those dainty murder mysteries of Edwardian Britain (and the movies they inspired). This is far more Agatha Christie than Quentin Tarantino, far more parlor room than oubliette. It’s gentler than the well-regarded 2019 whodunit Knives Out , kinder than this year’s needlessly bloody remake of Death on the Nile . It has its problems, to be sure: The sexual plot points, the frequent drinking, the bloody bodies on the floor. But in context, this spoofish murder mystery feels paradoxically innocent.

You could argue that Agatha Christie herself was responsible for making murder—at least fictional murder—respectable. More than 2 billion copies of her books have been sold, making her the most popular author of all time. The real-life play The Mousetrap ? Yep, it’s still going, with more than 28,500 performances under its belt. Outside a respite forced by the COVID epidemic, it’s been in continuous production since 1952.

Why no Mousetrap movie, then? Well, the author really did have a clause saying that the play had to be out of production for six months before one could begin. Hollywood is still waiting for its chance.

Agatha Christie showed the world that even murder stories don’t need to be needlessly bloody to work. And perhaps this latest wave of whodunits will convince more contemporary directors of the same. Death, it seems—at least this peculiar brand of death—has a life of its own.

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Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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See How They Run asks Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan to solve only murders in the theater

Director tom george's meta-spoof highlights the conventions of whodunits instead of simply solving who done it.

(from left) Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan in See How They Run.

See How They Run is the latest in a string of films that have attempted to bring the whodunit into the 21 st century, following Kenneth Branagh’s Poirot films and Rian Johnson’s breakout hit Knives Out . Director Tom George and writer Mark Chappell skew closer to Johnson’s subversive glee than Branagh’s high theatrics, but for all of its self-aware, comic trappings, their film doesn’t have much to say about its genre besides the obvious.

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Acerbic film director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody) sets the tone early, cynically describing the whodunit formula in voiceover while setting the scene for what audiences prepare to watch. In the West End of London in 1953, a stage production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap reaches its 100 th performance, and among the celebrants are parties interested in adapting the play into a film. However, as Köpernick explains, a hallmark of murder mysteries is that the most unlikeable character is the one bound to be killed first—so it comes as little surprise that his body that is the one found on stage.

This draws the attention of world-weary police Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and his overeager protege, Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan), who interview suspects. Whether it’s an effeminate screenwriter (David Oyelowo) who hated Köpernick’s proposed changes to the narrative, a blackmailed producer (Reece Shearsmith), or any of the play’s charismatic cast (including Harris Dickinson as Richard Attenborough and Pearl Chanda as Sheila Sim), virtually everyone has a reason to want Köpernick dead.

The tongue-in-cheek tone of Köpernick’s pre-mortem narration matches the rest of the film’s comedic sensibilities, which deliver a self-aware commentary about the tropes and staples of its chosen genre. Not only is this accentuated with a stylistic use of split-screen cinematography and snappy editing, but its investigative leads act as cornerstones of genre convention and a reflexive study of those conventions.

Stoppard epitomizes the archetypal detective whose personal life revolves around the central pillars of depression and alcoholism, while Stalker acts primarily as an audience surrogate, jumping to conclusions based on Stoppard’s investigative interviews, which he then has to rein in as insufficiently supported by evidence or logic. Rockwell’s performance is perhaps a bit too reserved to make the buddy pairing totally gel, but Ronan makes up for it with a self-deprecating spunkiness, leaning into the inherent absurdity of whodunit deductive reasoning.

However, the more See How They Run emphasizes its knowledge of mystery fiction, the more apparent it becomes that the film has little to actually say about it. Unlike Knives Out , where the twists and turns of the story are compelling in their own right while simultaneously flipping conventional framing on its head, See How They Run is content to fill its screenplay with explicit observations about red herrings and cinematic conventions such as flashbacks and title cards while being a story that relies heavily on such tropes.

Once the shallowness of that central joke becomes apparent, it leaves the film in an uncanny lurch, where the silly atmosphere and occasional physical gag are endearing, but less clever than advertised. In fact, its attempts at faux subversion undercut the tension of the mystery, as a second act investigation is so heavily telegraphed as a dead end that the audience becomes impatient for the other shoe to drop.

All of which is a shame, because as a straight-faced whodunit, See How They Run could be a worthy successor to the legacy of Agatha Christie. The actual resolution to the mystery is not so easily deduced, but the seeds are sufficiently planted for the killer’s identity to not only make sense, but to be far more compelling than any of the established red herrings. And while the light tone is mainly present to make the comedy palatable, it still works as a farcically surreal take on mystery storytellers being caught up in a murder mystery all their own.

Ultimately, See How They Run is too reverent to its forebears and too toothless in its satire to elevate beyond an overly self-aware genre exercise—competent enough, but all too eager to shoot any attempted subtlety dead where it stands.

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See How They Run review: a charming but slight whodunit

The opening narration of See How They Run , which comes courtesy of Adrien Brody’s ill-fated Leo Köpernick, doesn’t just tell you what kind of movie it is. Brody’s sardonic voice-over also makes it clear that See How They Run knows exactly what kind of a story it’s telling, and so do its characters. As Köpernick is killed by an unknown assailant in See How They Run ’s prologue, Brody’s voice even dryly remarks: “I should have seen this coming. It’s always the most unlikable character that gets killed first.”

In a less charming film, See How They Run ’s streak of self-aware comedy would wear thin quickly. However, the new film from director Tom George is able to, for the most part, strike the right balance between tongue-in-cheek humor, mystery, and genuine sweetness. The film is a lean, not-particularly-mean whodunit, one that lacks the acidic strain of humor present in some of cinema’s other great murder mysteries, including 2019’s Knives Out , but which still boasts the kind of playful spirit that is at the heart of so many of its notable genre predecessors.

See How They Run also features what all whodunits must: an ensemble of memorably cartoonish, over-the-top characters. In specific, the film places its attention on the disorganized crew of actors, writers, and producers that are at the center of a production of The Mousetrap , the hit Agatha Christie play . At the start of See How They Run , a group of Hollywood creatives are in the midst of trying to adapt The Mousetrap and that’s, well, where the fun begins.

See How They Run knows that no whodunit is complete without a memorable detective. Consequently, the film provides not just one, but two lead investigators in Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell), an alcoholic but intelligent police detective, and Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan), a rookie cop who is desperate to learn every lesson she can from her seasoned superior. The two characters are brought together in the film’s first act by the murder of Brody’s Leo Köpernick, an exiled Hollywood director who had been hired to helm an adaptation of The Mousetrap .

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See How They Run then follows its lead pair as they question a wide range of suspects, nearly all of whom are introduced in the film’s opening minutes. The list of possible culprits includes: Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson), the original producer behind The Mousetrap ; Richard Attenborough (Harris Dickinson), the lead actor in the stage production; Sheila Sim (Pearl Chanda), Attenborough’s wife and an accomplished actress in her own right; John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith), a philandering movie producer who wishes to capitalize on The Mousetrap ’s success; and Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo), the snobby writer who was hired to pen Woolf’s in-development adaptation.

While these characters are all bound together by See How They Run ‘s central Christie play, the film does struggle to give each of its performers their due. Wilson, for instance, makes a striking impression as Petula, an unyielding producer who wishes to keep The Mousetrap running in London for as long as possible, but Mark Chappell’s script doesn’t give her much to do throughout See How They Run . The same can be said for Dickinson and Chanda, both of whom turn in reliably charming performances despite their characters feeling like little more than background players for much of the film’s runtime.

Of the film’s cast of suspects, it’s Oyelowo who makes the biggest lasting mark with his outsized performance as the insecure, easily offended writer who frequently clashed with Brody’s egomaniacal Köpernick. For his part, Brody gets to continue his recent career resurgence by turning in another likably sleazy performance as the victim at the center of See How They Run ’s story. He does that despite the fact that the film is ultimately less concerned with its victim and suspects than it is with its charming detective duo.

To See How They Run ’s credit, it’s not hard to see why it’s more interested in focusing on the unlikely partnership that forms between Ronan’s Stalker and Rockwell’s Stoppard than any of the haughty characters they’re investigating. Rockwell and Ronan have each spent the past few years proving time and time again that they’re two of our most charming working actors, and See How They Run doesn’t pass up the chance to take advantage of that fact. Rockwell turns in a surprisingly sleepy but confident performance as Stoppard, a man who is haunted less by his wartime experiences than he is by his failed marriage.

The actor moves through See How They Run like a man on autopilot, which not only makes it easy to feel empathy for Stoppard, but also allows his moments of insight to be that much more impactful. Ronan, meanwhile, shines as Stalker, a chatty and impulsive young detective whose eagerness to get to the bottom of Köpernick’s murder leads her down a number of unfortunate detours. Like Oyelowo, Ronan isn’t afraid to go big in See How They Run. She brings an over-the-top exuberance to her performance as Stalker that feels, at times, like it was designed for a movie directed by Wes Anderson, whose obvious influence on See How They Run  feels inescapable.

Fortunately, unlike so many of the Anderson imitators that have been released over the years, See How They Run manages to succeed on its own merits while still feeling deeply indebted to the Grand Budapest Hotel and French Dispatch director. Mark Chappell’s script also keeps the film moving at a pleasingly brisk pace, one that heightens the film’s lighthearted tone and sense of humor without ever pausing long enough to let it get lost in its own cleverness. The film does make a few critical missteps in its final act by both rushing toward a resolution that is less satisfying than it rightly should be and by too heavily foreshadowing the biggest beats of its climax.

These mistakes aren’t damaging enough to sink See How They Run though. The film’s infectiously joyous spirit helps make up for its shortcomings, which come together to form an admittedly minor but still enjoyable homage to the murder mystery genre itself. As its opening narration informs you, See How They Run knows what steps its viewers expect it to follow, and it manages to hit nearly all of its necessary beats with enough panache and style to pack a tangible, if not necessarily bruising punch.

See How They Run hits theaters on Friday, September 16.

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Alex Welch

Bodies Bodies Bodies, the new film from Dutch director Halina Reijn, may offer more than its fair share of mangled and bloody corpses, but its gnarliest moments have nothing to do with death or murder. Instead, the new A24 horror comedy ultimately cares less about the deaths of the characters it traps in its suitably spooky mansion and more about burning the images they have of themselves to the ground. Thanks to its ensemble of social media-obsessed Gen Z narcissists, Bodies Bodies Bodies’ decision to prioritize social death over literal death proves to be well-founded.

Over the course of its tight 95-minute runtime, the film sends its characters spiraling down their own rabbit holes of paranoia and desperation until there’s nothing left for them to do but blame each other for the difficult situations they’ve found themselves in. For that reason, Bodies Bodies Bodies tends to be at its best and most biting when it isn't operating as a standard slasher movie, but rather as a kind of nightmarish new take on Clue for the TikTok generation.

Sometimes it seems like all of the most interesting movies are skipping theaters entirely. Even the Knives Out sequel, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, is going directly to Netflix. But this fall, there's at least one murder mystery/comedy that is still coming to theaters: Searchlight Pictures' See How They Run. Since Searchlight falls under Disney's 20th Century Studios banner, this film could have easily been sent straight to Hulu. But once you see the first trailer below, you'll understand why Searchlight and Disney feel confident enough to give See How They Run a proper theatrical run.

SEE HOW THEY RUN | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures

Flux Gourmet exists in its own strange world, one where concepts like “good taste” and “bad taste” do not seem to exist.

Written and directed by cult British filmmaker Peter Strickland, the new film plays squarely by its own rules from start to finish, digging deeper and deeper into a world where performance art, food, sexual politics, and shame-inducing bouts of excessive flatulence (yes, you read that correctly) all intersect. Rarely, if ever, does Flux Gourmet stop to explain itself, and while another director might have chosen to make the film’s cast of characters the members of an underground movement, Strickland chooses to let them play in the sun above ground.

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See how they run review: ronan & rockwell charm despite dry, lifeless script.

Relying heavily on whodunnit tropes, See How They Run is a little too stale and unfunny for its own good.

The murder mystery genre will always be a source of entertainment for audiences. With films like director Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Kristie’s 1937 novel, Death on the Nile , it’s not difficult to imagine why. Later this year, viewers can watch Rian Johnson’s follow-up to his Knives Out story, Glass Onion , which follows detective Benoit Blanc taking on another shocking death among a group of friends. With these entries, whodunit stories in Hollywood show no signs of slowing down. Tom George returns to directing, attempting to take on the genre with humor and flair. Relying heavily on whodunit tropes, See How They Run is a little too stale and unfunny for its own good.

In the West End of 1950s London, a production crew from a popular stage play readies for their 100th show. This celebration marks their journey towards making the movie version of their smash-hit production. Unfortunately, the commemoration of their would-be joyous occasion comes to an unexpected halt when their director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody) is murdered. Ready to take on the case is none other than the world-weary Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and his enthusiastic rookie Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan). Already amidst a world of drama and unknowns, the two find themselves thrown for a loop when the mysterious homicide evolves into what appears to be a hunt for the cast.

Related: 10 Light Hearted Whodunits To Watch Before See How They Run

Director Tom George’s attempt to revive the genre falls flat in execution, eliminating what makes whodunits great in the first place. The characters are so thinly written that it is difficult to care about anything concerning them. Their introductions come as simple voice-overs from Brody’s Köpernick, in which he offers a quick fact or two about each suspect or potential victim. Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t give viewers a chance to see the characters in action, nor does it enable them to draw their own conclusions about who may have killed the victim. It’s a waste and takes away from what would typically be a fun and engaging viewing experience.

The humor throughout See How They Run is extremely dry and fails to bring about any sort of delight from the story. Perhaps this was intentional, but it's hard to believe that it'll land among the masses. In one particular sequence, for example, screenwriter Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo) scoffs at flashbacks and time-jump title cards within murder mysteries. Then, without hesitation, the screen pans to a "3 weeks later" title card and jump. This type of dry and contrived humor is prevalent throughout George’s feature, and viewers will see it all coming a mile away. The worst part is the execution, which is odd and doesn’t deliver the comedy that it intended.

Aside from the forced humor, See How They Run doesn't shy away from making fun of itself or the genre to which it belongs. Somehow, it’s still bland and boring as certain sequences and twists are predictable by nature. Whodunits should naturally draw in attention from viewers by concept alone. But after a phenomenal early sequence, much of the film goes downhill from there. That’s not to say that everything in George’s feature doesn’t work. Truthfully, the costuming and set designs are key components that accentuate the dynamic within the film. Even when the script starts to lose its early momentum, the setting in which the film is framed enables cinematographer Jamie D. Ramsay to put his best foot forward to capture the mood of the genre with beautiful photography.

Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell also hold this script together because of their performances. However, they might have made for a more fascinating pair had the script given their characters any sort of personality. They play off each other well with the dialogue they’ve been given. But despite giving their best efforts, their performances could not lift this film out of its bind. Brody's character said it best about whodunits earlier in the film: "You've seen one, you've seen them all." But it's hard to pinpoint the last one in the genre that came off as lifeless and unfunny as this one.

See How They Run is in theaters on September 16. The film is 98 minutes long and rated PG-13 for one sexual reference and some violence/bloody images.

A parent's guide to 'Challengers': Is Zendaya's new movie appropriate for tweens or teens?

see how the run movie review

As a former Disney Channel kid, Zendaya has a fanbase that's grown up with her as an actress and she appeals to a younger generation. The 27-year-old is also beginning to take on more mature roles, like in HBO's "Euphoria," that may not be appropriate for everyone.

Which brings us to " Challengers " (in theaters now), her new R-rated tennis drama co-starring Mike Faist and Josh O'Connor. The trailer shows Zendaya's character when she's 18, so tweens and teens might think, "Hey, this is for me!" It also shows her in her 30s, as the movie tracks three people in a sporty love triangle that unfolds over more than a decade, so it's a little complicated.

Here's what parents of Zendaya-loving youngsters need to know about "Challengers":

What is the new Zendaya movie 'Challengers' about?

Zendaya has her most adult role yet in director Luca Guadagnino's sports movie: The film opens with her character Tashi as the 31-year-old coach, manager and wife of pro tennis player Art (Faist). After recent losses, he needs a confidence boost and she enters him in a lower-level tournament, where he faces rival Patrick (O'Connor), a financially struggling athlete from their past.

The movie then flashes back to the trio as teens, when the prodigal Tashi and doubles partners/friends Art and Patrick have a three-way makeout session in a hotel room that sparks evolving relationships between them.

Why is 'Challengers' rated R?

The movie is officially rated R for "language throughout, some sexual content and graphic nudity." Let's break that down: Yes, there are plenty of four-letter curse words and also sexual situations, though the latter aren't too steamy. O'Connor and Zendaya are in their underwear for one intimate scene, but that stuff on the whole veers more PG-13.

What parents might be more concerned by is the male nudity. After the aforementioned hotel hookup, Art has an erection in his boxer shorts that Patrick playfully smacks, while in a locker room scene, there are a couple of moments of full-frontal male genitalia, though not in a sexual context.

Is Zendaya's tennis film appropriate for children?

Not really, especially in regard to younger teens and under. Aside from the language, sexual content and nudity, "Challengers" explores a lot of headier themes that older teens might understand and appreciate more – among them, identity, sexuality, power dynamics and how people use strong feelings to manipulate one another. If your son or daughter is dying to see it, the official R-rated restriction applies nicely: Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Even if they've already snuck in a "Euphoria" binge watch.

What are some kid-friendly movies featuring the 'Challengers' cast?

The littlest Zendaya fans can stream her earlier Disney Channel comedy series "Shake It Up" and "K.C. Undercover" on Disney+. As for her film output, the musical "The Greatest Showman" (also starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron) has a wide appeal; the Marvel Spider-Man movies with her boyfriend Tom Holland ("Homecoming," "Far From Home" and "No Way Home") are all top-notch; and a "Dune" double feature would be good for tween and teen sci-fi fans.

Faist played Jets leader Riff in Steven Spielberg's Oscar-nominated "West Side Story" redo – and was in the best supporting actor conversation – plus stars in the Amazon streaming series "Panic." While it might not be for your whole household, at least your royals-loving teens might want to check out his co-star O'Connor as a young Prince Charles in the third and fourth seasons of Netflix's " The Crown ."

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Janet Etuk and Jacob Meadows in Cold.

Cold review – theatrically evocative folk-tale treatment of the pain of miscarriage

A man spins a story in a doctor’s waiting room, sparking a fairy tale of loss and desperation

F ilm-makers Claire Coache and Lisle Turner are a couple who survived the horrific experience of losing two babies during pregnancy: one to a medical termination and one to miscarriage. With Cold, they transmute this trauma into a near-wordless performance of allegorical art, one that was filmed during lockdown first in an empty theatre and is now being distributed online for free in order to make the subject accessible to everyone. That’s both very noble and savvy because this discreet, extremely intimate film starring two barely known actors might have struggled to pull in paying customers considering the subject is so painful.

Janet Etuk and Jacob Meadows play a couple first met waiting in a hospital to be seen by a doctor, stressed and worried about the child she’s carrying. In search of distraction, she asks him to tell her a story, and what follows from there is the rest of the film, acted out on a stage where snow falls and the two of them, named as Ulf (Meadows) and Falda (Etuk) in the intertitles, struggle through the winter. Transformed into a now-mute couple forced to survive on foraged and hunted food with only a wood cabin for protection, they are at one point forced to make unconscionable decisions about Falda and the baby’s future by a “Hex Doctor” (Coache herself) when the pregnancy goes wrong.

It’s all transformed into folk/fairytale-style dream logic, with little babies made of ice and wombs that glow like lanterns; it’s very theatrical but evocative. With no dialogue to work with, Etuk and Meadows do sterling work emoting and expressing the whole gamut of emotions, from hope, to agony and on through madness and resignation. Painful stuff, to be sure, but cathartic in its way.

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see how the run movie review

Casey Affleck says “Midnight Run” inspired him to co-write Boston-set heist flick costarring Matt Damon

S ee the first look at 'The Instigators,' also starring Hong Chau and directed by Doug Liman, who last worked with Damon on "The Bourne Identity."

Fresh off playing military men in Oppenheimer , Matt Damon and Casey Affleck are teaming up again onscreen for a very different kind of mission: stealing from a corrupt politician.

Co-written by Affleck, The Instigators sees the duo returning to their Boston roots for the upcoming heist flick, and Entertainment Weekly has the exclusive first look. Affleck says the Apple TV+ original is inspired by some of his favorites. "The inspiration for this was definitely Midnight Run and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, " says the actor, adding that he'd always "wanted to do a buddy action comedy."

Damon costars as Rory, a desperate father who reluctantly joins forces with Cobby (Affleck), an ex-con, "to pull off a robbery of the ill-gained earnings of a corrupt politician," per the official synopsis. When the heist inevitably goes sideways, the unlikely pair "find themselves engulfed in a whirlwind of chaos, pursued not only by the police but also backward bureaucrats and vengeful crime bosses." Along the way, they somehow convince Rory's therapist (Hong Chau) to join their "riotous getaway."

Or, as Affleck puts it, " The Instigators is about two strangers who are hired for a heist. They become frenemies and then become friends while Jack Harlow yells at us, Paul Walter Hauser insults us, Ving Rhames hunts us, and Hong Chau keeps us alive."

Not only was the movie a homecoming of sorts for the two famous Bostonians, but the film also reunited Damon with director Doug Liman for the first time since 2002's The Bourne Identity. "Casey Affleck and [co-writer] Chuck MacLean had created some great characters and a really fun world," Damon says of what drew him to the project. "More than anything, it was a chance to work with Doug and Casey together that I was the most excited about. And it’s always great to go back to Boston."

Of reteaming with Liman, Damon adds, "I absolutely love working with Doug. I can’t believe it took us 20 years to find something else to do together. Doug is one of the most creatively tenacious people I’ve ever met. He just won’t stop until the movie is as good as it can be, and that is the best possible thing you can feel from a director. I trust him completely."

"It was so fulfilling to see how each of us has grown," adds Liman. "And by that, I mean to see how much Matt has grown. And not just as an actor."

Friends since grade school, Affleck and Damon lived together, along with Casey's brother and fellow actor, Ben, when they were up-and-comers trying to make it big in Hollywood. Asked what it was like working with two longtime partners in crime, Liman says, "Like I was parachuted into a family." He adds, "With Bourne, I was inviting Matt into my world. But with Instigators, I was very clear being dropped into Matt’s family. And all that history, good and bad, is on the screen."

The Instigators hits select theaters on Aug. 2 before streaming globally on Apple TV+ on Aug. 9.

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Related content:

  • Ben Affleck, at the top of his game
  • The 11 wicked best Boston movies
  • Casey Affleck says he wasn't the man throwing out brother Ben's Ana de Armas cutout
  • Ben Affleck and Matt Damon blew all their  Good Will Hunting  money in 6 months on a party house and Jeeps

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Matt Damon (L) and Casey Affleck in 'The Instigators'

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Unsung Hero (2024)

Based on a remarkable true story, a mum's faith stands against all odds and inspires her husband and children to hold on to theirs. Based on a remarkable true story, a mum's faith stands against all odds and inspires her husband and children to hold on to theirs. Based on a remarkable true story, a mum's faith stands against all odds and inspires her husband and children to hold on to theirs.

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