Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Silverstone, Domenick Lombardozzi, Ato Essandoh, Frances Fisher, Karl Glusman, Michael Pitt, Eric Bogosian, and Mike Pniewski
Director: Grant Singer
Reptile is at its strongest when focused on Benicio Del Toro’s Tom Nichols. Whether he’s being a hard-nosed cop or embracing his inner shopaholic, he commands the screen. Where the film falters, however, is in some of the more unnecessary directorial choices (extreme close-ups, jarringly loud effects) and its slow build. This could have worked if the story was supplying something new, but that’s not the case. You’ll find the same clichés that you find in every other cop drama throughout its relatively generic script. Luckily, Del Toro is able to elevate the words on the page to push things above average.
Like a lot of films trying to emulate director David Fincher’s best neo-noir detective movies, Reptile doesn’t do anything special with the genre, playing its greatest hits like a cover band. The story, though it starts strongly, goes a bit off the rails in the second act as the mystery and its twists become increasingly convoluted. I’m also not entirely sure why Alicia Silverstone’s character was necessary. That said, Benicio Del Toro, who does not make near enough movies nowadays, can make reading the phone book compelling, so, even with all its derivative flaws and a slog of a runtime, it’s not too shabby.
While at times predictable, Reptile manages to deliver enough unexpected twists and turns to keep its audience intrigued; however, the real issue is that the story isn’t tense enough. The narrative is too dry, and, to be honest, it feels like a wannabe David Fincher movie. Even with a great performance from our lead, Benicio Del Toro, the film is kind of a bore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid crime thriller…it can just feel sluggish at times while taking a bit to unravel.
This film was reviewed by Nick as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.