Reptile (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Grant Singer, written by Benjamin Brewer, Grant Singer and Benicio Del Toro and starring Benicio Del Toro, Justin TImberlake, Alicia Silverstone, Eric Bogosian, Domenick Lombardozzi, Frances Fisher, Ato Essandoh, Michael Pitt, Karl Glusman, Mike Pniewski, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Catherine Dyer, Thad Luckinbill, Michael Beasley, JC Capone, Sky Ferreira, James Devoti and Amy Parrish.
Grant Singer’s new film, Reptile, is a thriller that maintains audience interest for a long time until it ultimately decides that it is not going to do anything too different from other similar films in this genre. Reptile runs two and a quarter hours and because it stars Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro, there is a lot of great promise for more than half of the movie’s extended running time.
In the movie, Del Toro plays an honest cop named Tom Nichols who is devoted to his wife, Judy (Alicia Silverstone). When a businessman named Will Grady (Justin Timberlake)’s girlfriend, Summer (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz), is killed, the plot becomes a guessing game of who did it and, for a while, the movie offers plenty of suspense and possibilities which keep the movie entertaining and engrossing for quite a bit of the movie’s duration. The title of the film, by the way, has some deep significance though the movie has very little to do with actual reptiles.
The problem with Reptile is that it throws in a lot of plot development that makes the viewer believe that there will be much more of a climax than the one that the film actually employs. A shady character named Sam Gifford (Karl Glusman) may be the culprit because of a surprising plot twist but we can soon cross him off our list of suspects when he gets killed. One could want to keep a scorecard with the list of suspects the movie presents except if one did that, that person wouldn’t be treated fairly by the filmmakers. The resolution of the movie doesn’t play fair with the ingredients the movie presents. Instead, it cheats by not only giving the movie a cop-out ending, but it also doesn’t fulfill the promise the early scenes hint at.
Del Toro is amazing in his role, nevertheless. Del Toro creates a hero who we want to root for and this performance proves the actor is more than capable as a leading man. Tom Nichols is a complex character who is faithful to his wife and excellent at what he does for a living. When he makes an ill-advised decision, he jeopardizes his role on the police force temporarily until further investigation is conducted. In this film, Del Toro reunites with his Excess Baggage co-star, Silverstone, over twenty years later but the pair seem to lack plausibility as a married couple, for whatever reason. They come off as old friends more than as a long-time husband and wife.
Watching Timberlake in his role here can make one respect how far the actor has come in his career. This part is a serious one and Timberlake makes the audience wonder if there’s a possibility that his character could be the culprit involved in the movie’s long-winded story line which is full of backstory and explanations that are interesting but don’t lead to a satisfying resolution. Still, Timberlake shows tremendous range and promise as a great dramatic actor and has a few really good scenes here. The script, however, doesn’t do the performance justice. By the film’s end, it feels that Will just gets lost in the twisty shuffle.
Eric Bogosian, always fantastic, is electrifying in the part of Captain Robert Allen and the film hints that Allen will have a lot to do with the final resolutions of the plot. We learn a secret about Allen and, again, the film sort of loses this revelation in its shuffle at the end. The movie’s ending is its biggest letdown because it feels like there are at least five more minutes of the movie to come. The use of the lyrics, “Knocking on heaven’s door” suggests there’s possibly more depth to the ending than what is actually displayed to the viewer. However, the kind of open-ended nature of the ending doesn’t help those who were holding scorecards to figure out who the killer was.
Reptile is still a well-made and competently acted picture. The performers can’t help that the script doesn’t do their talents justice. If the movie just got a few rewrites, there could have been a more precise resolution to the story line. Michael Pitt and Ato Essandoh’s compelling characters really captivate during these actors’ appearances in the movie but, at the end, it seems their characters weren’t really totally necessary in the grand scheme of things to tell this story. What it all boils down to is that this is basically a movie about corruption and drugs with a real estate scam thrown in for good measure. These elements were a bit too obvious and one more really good twist would have helped the movie significantly.
However, Del Toro is so good here, you may just want to check out Reptile. This is the actor’s most nuanced performance in years and he carries the movie through to the final shot of the picture. Silverstone’s role, though, seems like it ended up on the cutting room floor more often than not. But, Reptile ultimately isn’t about Del Toro and Silverstone reuniting on screen again, it’s a complicated puzzle of a thriller that feels like it’s missing a couple of key pieces. But, watching it is certainly not a dull experience. There’s a lot going on. This film could have been great but is just average in the final analysis.
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