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September 29, 2023 / Netflix

Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Justin Timberlake, Eric Bogosian, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Pitt, Ato Essandoh, Domenick Lombardozzi, Karl Glusman

Directed By: Grant Singer

When a young real estate agent is mysteriously murdered, Detective Tom Nicholas (Benicio Del Toro) is put on the case to find her killer.

Where nothing is as it seems, the detective must figure out between the boyfriend, best friend, ex-husband, and mysterious man who showed up at her house a few nights prior, who killed her — while also unfolding the illusions of his own life. He discovers a truth more dangerous than anyone could have imagined.

Written By Darren

Rating 3 out of 5

Reptile is a half baked crime thriller that despite a good supporting performance from Alicia Silverstone and a wild conclusion to an intriguing mystery, it cannot fully course correct the film which suffers from a slow first half and a stilted screenplay.

When you hear that Benicio Del Toro is cast as a hardened cop investigating a grizzly murder, the film sells itself as Del Toro is the perfect actor for such a role. And with a star studded supporting cast of Justin Timberlake, Alicia Silverstone and Frances Fisher, it’s enough to get you to click play when opening up Netflix and seeing it at the front of the new release row. Despite the film starting off with a grizzly murder that hooks your attention as you watch Del Toro’s Tom investigate the many shady individuals who have motive to have committed the crime, the film gets exciting too late in the game to make it the best investment of your time.

After moving to a small New England town with his wife, Tom is assigned to the case of a grizzly murder of a real estate agent in a home she was selling. With an unwavering determination to find out who killed this young woman, Tom quickly discovers that nothing in this case is as it seems. As he gets closer and closer to the truth of the identity of the killer, Tom’s personal life begins to crack around him as the case dissolves the illusions that he and his wife Judy had been enjoying in their new life.

In terms of story, there is an interesting one being told in Reptile. It's your traditional crime thriller narrative, but with lots of moving pieces and potential suspects. There is lots for the film to work with, however, the first half of the film is very slow and does not fully capitalize on all the breadcrumbs the screenplay drops. For example, there are characters that are teased as being crucial to the story, such as the character of Camille Grady, but the screenplay either forgets that this idea was introduced or does not spend enough time with the character to make full use of the idea. It sets the latter half of the film to be a fast and furious sprint to its thrilling conclusion, that while entertaining in terms of where the story goes and what audiences will want from the film, it comes too late to justify the over two hour run time. Nor does it help that the dialogue for the majority of the film is very stilted, preventing any meaningful development of the mystery or interactions between characters to take on a life of their own. Combined with choppy editing that matches the tone set by the stilted screenplay, it prevents tension from being built in the scenes to make the film a truly entertaining crime thriller. It is clear that the film is the work of relatively green writers, as there is a clear idea but the execution leaves the audience wanting a lot more that could have been avoided with a more experienced writer for the project.

You would expect with Del Toro in the lead role, the acting would greatly elevate the film. But sadly it is not a great performance from. Del Toro is fine in the lead role, going through the motions and creating the hardened cop looking into the murder case, but there are no moments that wow that audiences have come to expect from Del Toro given similar roles he has had in the past. Justin Timberlake is largely forgettable with a melodramatic performance of the grieving boyfriend that does not showcase his talents as an actor. The saving grace is Alicia Silverstone as Tom’s wife Judy who is an absolute delight in the role. Bringing a vibrant personality to life, dealing out hard truths and taking matters into her own hands, it’s a wonderful performance that lights up this otherwise drab film. It’s a great reminder of how talented an actress Silverstone is and why she ruled the late 90s and early 2000s.

Despite the potential of the story and an exciting final act, Reptile struggles to find its footing and pales in comparison to other great crime thrillers that share a likeness to it. While Alicia Silverstone is a true highlight of the film with an excellent supporting performance, a muddled screenplay and stilted dialogue prevents Benicio Del Toro from shining and the mystery from fully developing, making Reptile another passable but ultimately mediocre Netflix thriller.

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