Grant Singer’s feature debut, Reptile, first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival at the beginning of September before finding a permanent home on Netflix. This slow-burner (emphasis on slow) neo-noir thriller features a star-studded cast led by Academy Award winner Benicio del Toro. Set in small-town Maine, the movie follows a burnt-out detective’s investigation into the brutal murder of a young woman.
Where can you watch Reptile in the UAE?
Reptile is now streaming on Netflix in the UAE. If you don’t have one, you can create a Netflix account to watch this movie and other shows on Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix does not offer any free trials in the Middle East, so you’ll have to subscribe for at least one month.
Will Grady (Justin Timberlake) is at the top of the real estate game in his small town. The company he runs with his formidable mother, Camille (Frances Fisher), specializes in flipping foreclosed homes. There’s some tension brewing between him and his introverted real-estate agent girlfriend, Summer (Matilda Lutz), but nothing could have prepared him to find her brutally stabbed to death body in one of the houses she was supposed to show.
In charge of the murder investigation is new-in-town detective Tom Nichols (Del Toro). Tom had to move to Maine with his wife Judy (Alicia Silverstone) after a scandal at his previous job.
As Tom looks into Summer’s slaying and the life she led, several potential suspects emerge. Her boyfriend, the silver-spooned shady real estate mogul, is at the top of the list from the very start. But Summer was still married to her ex, the drug-addicted Sam (Karl Glusman). The victim’s friend, Renee (Sky Ferreira), also seems to know more than she lets on.
And Tom can’t shake off that niggling thought that everyone in his police department wants this investigation to be over sooner rather than later, regardless of whether they arrest the real killer.
This film is about Summer’s murder as it is about Tom and the tight-knit law enforcement office he’s a part of. His wife’s uncle, Robert (Eric Bogosian), is the precinct’s Captain who gave Tom a job as a favour to his niece.
The rest of the crew, including Chief Marty (Mike Pniewski), Detective Wally (Domenick Lombardozzi), and Detective Cleary (Ato Essandoh), are more than coworkers – they’re Tom’s friends. They go out for drinks, and their wives jog together in the mornings. The film shows glimpses of their lives and the effort (or lack thereof) they put into investigating the most gruesome murder their little community has ever seen.
Overly complicated narrative
Reptile is an intriguing thriller where the lives of those in charge of solving one murder intertwine with the actual investigation. It’s also a very long movie with random scenes patched together without enough coherence.
There’s an argument on how the movie’s complexity demands the audience’s full and undivided attention. On the flip side, some might view this as a slow, convoluted, and overly ambitious feature. By the halfway point, it’s hard to follow the story Singer is trying to tell.
Too many plot points are introduced and dropped. There’s a slice-of-life element to the film that may have worked well in smaller doses instead of placing the main event (Summer’s murder) in the background.
The performances are mostly top-notch. Del Toro is a joy to watch as he embodies a tired detective with a past who simply can’t let this one investigation go, regardless of costs. Justin Timberlake isn’t the best actor, but in this feature, he does add a duplicitous side to Will Grady’s character. And Alicia Silverstone shines as Tom’s loyal wife, torn between her husband and her comfortable standing in the community.
Reptile tries too hard to be an elevated feature but misses the mark with patchy editing, overly complicated narrative points, and unnecessary character studies. It’s a decent enough neo-noir thriller, but ultimately a forgettable one.
What are other critics saying about Reptile?
Movies And Munchies praised the film’s ability to create tension by making all characters seem suspicious until the big reveal.
Austin Burke praised Del Toro’s excellent performance but had some criticisms about the film’s pacing.
Lost In the Reel criticized the movie’s excessive length and found it hard to connect with the characters.
Lori C. is an entertainment writer who studied Film and Television at University. She watches and reviews films and series from most genres, but some of her favourites include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, and True Blood.