The latest Netflix crime drama, Reptile, is now streaming, but should you give it a watch?
Landing on the platform following its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Reptile is the feature film debut from in-demand music video director Grant Singer, who has worked with such artists as Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, & Ariana Grande.
The film is also co-written by Singer along with fellow music video director Benjamin Brewer, who has collaborated with The Chainsmokers, David Guetta, & Skrillex over the past several years.
Set in small-town Maine, Reptile centers around Detective Tommy Nichols (Benicio Del Toro), a recent transplant who left his Philadelphia precinct under suspicion of covering up the crimes of his former partner. Nichols lands his new job thanks to his wife Judy (Alicia Silverstone), whose family connections within the police force give him the much-needed landing following his checkered exit.
Though a newcomer in his new surroundings, Tommy takes the lead on a gruesome, high-profile case involving the murder of an estate agent who was stabbed to death in one of her showing houses. Suspects start to arise in the form of the deceased’s current boyfriend and fellow realtor Will Grady (Justin Timberlake), her ex-husband Sam Gifford (Karl Glusman), & a scorned former client of Will Grady and his family’s real estate company (Michael Pitt) who has set his sights on revenge for taking advantage of his father in the sale of the family farm. Only after the case appears closed and a suspect goes down does the plot begin to thicken and a grander conspiracy starts to emerge.
With the look and feel of a season of HBO’s True Detective, Reptile has all the hallmarks of the modern gritty procedural. With a dark underbelly slowly eclipsing the sheen of a picaresque New England suburb and a quiet, brooding, yet perceptive detective poised to expose it all, the film wants to bring the mood & conspiracy mystique of a Fincher film, but doesn’t quite measure up in the hands of its first time director.
However, while Singer’s attempts at legendary status may fall short, the film does satisfy with a lived-in community feel, enough creep & intrigue in its construction, & a stellar cast led by Del Toro who gives the film a weighty presence that sets the right tone for this type of story. With his ability to blend humor, sunken-eyed thousand-yard stares, & gritty realism, Del Toro should play all hard-boiled, veteran detectives from here on out.
For every plot convenience, odd music choice, or jagged edit, the film is saved by great character chemistry, solid veteran performances (great to see Silverstone in her element in particular), and a slow burn unfurling of the plot’s twists & turns.
Overall, Reptile sets itself apart from its procedural crime thriller peers with its quirk, atmosphere, & engagement that is buoyed by a deep roster of well-casted talent. While you can see the flaws of a first-time director, the positives hide them well enough to create a gripping end result.
Watch Reptile on Netflix If You Like
- True Detective
- The Departed
- Training Day
- Internal Affairs
- Gone Girl
MVP of Netflix’ Reptile
Benecio Del Toro as Det. Tom Nichols
With writing & producing credits alongside his engaging lead performance, Benecio Del Toro is all in for this movie and it shows. While I gave him enough superlatives in the review, here’s one more: this is his best performance since Sicario and reminded his fans why he might be the best crime drama actor we have in the modern era. Usual Suspects, Sicario, Snatch, Traffic, The Way of the Gun. The list goes on and on and he kills it in all of them.
PLAY, PAUSE, OR STOP?
An enthralling procedural that keeps you rapt throughout with solid performances from Del Toro, Silverstone, Bogosian, & crew.