Toronto Film Festival 2023: Reptile


Director: Grant Singer
Writers: Grant Singer, Benjamin Brewer, Benicio Del Toro

Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Carmen Pitt
Runtime: 2 Hour 14 Minutes

Synopsis: Nichols, a hardened New England detective unflinching in his pursuit of a case where nothing is as it seems, one that begins to dismantle the illusions in his own life.

Reptile is one of those films that shows as a film festival that has all the makings of a great movie. It has the cast, the concept and everything going for it. It's one of those films that everyone wants to check out. And then there's the inevitable disappointment that comes after watching it. To call this film a disappointment with the cast it has is giving it far more justice than it deserves. This was the first film I saw at the Toronto Film Festival and my hope is that it doesn't set the tone of what I should expect this year. 

The problem with Reptile is that it tries to get too cute with hiding what's really going on. There are a ton of red herons in the script to throw the audience off from the "whodunit" murder of Will Grady's (played by Justin Timberlake) wife. You even start to question at the beginning if detective Tom Nichols (Benicio Del Toro) has something to do with it based off of some early clues and hints. But then you quickly realize that it's all a lie. Purposely, and in many cases, obviously false clues that are just there to try to lead the audience down the wrong path. If the script had more beef to it, these twists and turns might be engaging and intriguing but because of how half-hearted they are, they just become annoying ways to drag out unnecessary scenes.

By the time the film gets to the final "twists", you're exhausted and already checked out. This leads to the film coming to an end with a thud versus a bang. Which is a shame considering the performances by the always solid Del Toro as well as Alicia Silverstone. It's just once again added to the list of films that underserve the acting talent in them with lackluster scripting. This leads Reptile from being a must-watch out of the Toronto Film Festival to yet another paint-by-numbers detective, whodunit, without the intrigue or mystery. 

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Charles (Kriss)

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