Does ‘See How They Run’ Deliver Its Promise? What Happened To Dennis Johnson And Agatha Christie?

“See How They Run” graced the silver screen last month and soon found its way to the smaller screens. The Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell starrer is a classic whodunit tale about a bumbling constable and an old-school inspector as they investigate a murder mystery on the sets of a popular play. The movie boasts all elements of a classic British murder mystery, albeit as a parody of one. Displaying the style of London in the 50s, “See How They Run” is a decent watch if you’re looking for something to watch while cooking a pot of pasta. Despite the movie falling into a crime thriller genre, there isn’t a moment if missed, would make you lose the thread of what is happening in the movie. The movie runs its course pretty decently, with a run time of just under an hour and forty minutes.


The pacing, as brisk as was, was not boring as far as the viewing experience is considered, owing to the occasional sprinkle of humor and small cliffhangers. Right at the beginning of the movie, the character Leo Koepernick (played by Adrien Brody of The Pianist fame) makes an announcement that “It is a whodunit. You’ve seen one. You’ve seen them all.” And this is what sums up the movie. You have seen such stories before, perhaps on a larger scale of thrillers and stories that keep you engaged throughout.

Spoilers Ahead


‘See How They Run’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

The movie begins with Leo Koepernick setting the stage with his voice-over about the things that are just about to happen. The popular director is all set to adapt the play ‘The Mousetrap’ into a film. He and the writer Merwyn have creative differences, which have led to highly verbal spats more than once. This is also a concern for the producer, John Woolf, who has already signed the contract and dished out a handsome monetary reimbursement for the same.

Leo Koepernick meets his end in a rather dramatic fashion on the sets of the play and thus begins a whodunit in real life. Immediately, the suspicion is the strongest on the cast members of the play and the other members involved with the film adaptation. Inspector Stoppard and Constable Stalker are paired up to find Koepernick’s killer. Soon, the film’s writer Merwyn also meets a rather troubling end. After these killings, suspicion upon the remaining members intensifies. They have their own game at play and quite a few dangerous secrets to reveal. At one point, even Inspector Stoppard was a suspect in Constable Stalker’s eyes. 


The situations take sharp turns in keeping the audiences guessing until the last minute, and needless to say, it does have a satisfying ending. The cast of the play soon finds themselves at a lonely castle which belongs to the writer Agatha Christie. The invite turns out to be fake and only a ploy to get them together for the ultimate revenge showdown by none other than the usher Dennis Johnson. The meta-narrative that takes place at the climax is a good twist to the tale. What Leo Koepernick had imagined for the movie adaptation plays out in the story eventually, leading to the fulfillment of his dream for a whodunit entertainer with an appetizing dose of razzmatazz. 

Concluding Thoughts

Despite hailing from the soupy genre of yesteryear crime fiction stories, “See How They Run” shines through in its portrayal of the characters. Where, on the one hand, it shows the shallowness and disregard for others that stems from fame and wealth, it also delves into the way people twist things for their own benefit. 


On the one hand, we have the dilemma of art imitating life. Dennis Johnson’s brother’s story was the main inspiration for Agatha Christie to write The Mousetrap. The play, to date, has been one of the most successful stage plays, but very little is known about the real-life story that inspired it. As a writer of crime thrillers and a popular one at that, Agatha gave her own twist to the brother’s tale, painting him as the blood-thirsty killer. This irked Dennis as he felt that his brother’s story was done a huge injustice, and thus he began to kill the people involved with the film adaptation.

Now, this leads us to a two-track question. The first is, how far should a writer or an artist go to present real life as interesting in their work? It is said that life imitates art and vice versa, but how true must imitation be? Just like Plato once said, the idea you actualize is actually a copy of the one you had in your mind. But does this mean that the final product should be shaded apart from its root only because it appeases the audience? Where does the truth find its place in such cases? 


Next, we have the question of Dennis’ reaction to Agatha’s story. Sure, he was right for feeling hurt and misrepresented in Agatha’s story, but does it mean that it warrants him to have the reaction he did? Killing members of the cast only led him to spend the rest of his life as a murderer. It did not bring his brother back, and neither did the story change. There were other ways of getting his point across instead of going on a killing spree. 

Lastly, speaking of the famous writer Agatha Christie. More often than not, in real life, the author has been subject to claims that she copied stories from others or from real life and gave them a lucrative edge to keep the readers and audience attracted. This leads us to question the authenticity and morality of any artist who takes inspiration from real life. In the last scene, when she adds rat poison to the tea – the tea is drunk by her butler who dies – who is to take the blame for the death? It is a homicide in all its rights, and instead of the butler, it could have been anyone from the people present there, including Agatha herself.


“See How They Run” can chalk up to a decent viewing experience if you run out of options for edge-of-the-seat thrillers. The cast put in their efforts to serve a delicious story, and the movie fares well, like that cup of ice cream, which is half liquid and half solid but still packs a good taste.

“See How They Run” is a 2022 mystery thriller film directed by Tom George.

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Nandini Iyengar
Nandini Iyengar
Nandini has grown up on a healthy diet of books, movies and shows. Hailing from a multicultural background, Nandini has tried indulging in art from different corners of India that came naturally to her. Taking the influence further, she delved into foreign languages and indulged in content from across the globe. When she is not watching anything on her laptop, she can be found daydreaming or picking her pen to write a few words of fiction.

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