REVIEW | Reptile- Toothless Thriller

Like the 2017 Tamil film, Vikram Vedha which was remade into Hindi last year, the Justin Timberlake-starrer also reveals the crime and its perpetrator right at the beginning.  
A scene from the movie.
A scene from the movie.

An Indian film inspired by Hollywood is nothing new. But, when it is the other way round, some amount of surprise is natural. Case in point: Netflix’s latest whodunit, Reptile, which has some semblance to Vikram Vedha. Like the 2017 Tamil film that was remade into Hindi last year, the Justin Timberlake-starrer too reveals the crime and its perpetrator right at the beginning.  

At the centre are Will Grady (Timberlake) and his girlfriend Summer Elswick (Matilda Lutz)—real estate agents, who don’t always follow the rules to gain profits. With Summer found dead in one of the listed houses, a world-weary detective Tom Nichols (a terrific Benicio del Toro) walks in to investigate the case. He has a few skeletons in his closet, naturally, and some of them aren’t necessarily his. As the case unravels, he comes to terms with the love-hate relationship with his profession and becomes disillusioned with the system. 

Initially, the film’s deliberate pacing works in its favour as the narrative establishes all the main players. We see Tom’s friends, who help him rehabilitate his life in Maine following a controversy in Philadelphia. There’s also his relationship with his wife Judy (Alicia Silverstone), which has its share of pitfalls that result in a chillingly effective scene in a pub in the final act.

Then, there’s the exhibit of his tremendous sleuthing abilities. Although his approach does not borrow from the Sherlockian school of expeditious deduction, his gradual and effective joining of dots is equally impressive and more believable. Director Grant Singer manages to weave together the murder, investigation and the subplot of Tom’s personal history to deliver a good noir film, but only in parts.

The climax doesn’t land. The film doesn’t hold its ground as the investigation, rather than aiming for a crescendo, loses steam. We are given answers to questions we didn’t even ask to finally realise that Reptile was always Tom’s tale. The murder was merely a tool to explore his psyche. While this works intermittently, the film fails to turn up the sinisterness of it all. And, the promising narrative that could have had an explosive ending, manages only a reasonable conclusion.


Director: Grant Singer

Genre: Crime Thriller

Platform: Netflix

Language: English

Rating: 3.5/5

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