Reptile – Movie Review

Reptile movie poster

reptile movie review 2023

Benicio Del Toro slinks and weaves through Grant Singer’s debut thriller “Reptile,” but the film struggles to develop a confident personality around him, ultimately coming apart at the seams. Clearly inspired by David Fincher’s meticulousness—Singer too is a music video vet who has worked with The Weeknd, Skrillex, Sam Smith and many more—“Reptile” feels overly mannered and precious with its details, but its biggest misstep is its failure to understand that procedurals need to get narratively tighter and not just more convoluted. Del Toro always brings it, and this is actually one of his more intriguing performances in a long time, but one consistently wishes that it was in a movie that knew what to do with it.

Will Grady (Justin Timberlake) is a Scarborough real estate mogul who is dating an agent named Summer (Matilda Lutz). They flip foreclosures on expensive homes in the area, under the watchful eye of Will’s mom Camille (Frances Fisher), and there seems to be some brewing tension in the relationship. One day, Will comes to meet Summer at a house she’s showing and finds her brutally murdered.

The suspects line up quickly for Detective Tom Nichols (Del Toro) and his partner Dan Cleary (Ato Essandoh). First, Grady couldn’t be creepier—Timberlake leans way too hard into the slimy silver spoon kid background of the kind of dude who lines up a new girlfriend who looks a lot like his dead one almost immediately. Will is clearly into some shady shit, but he found the body, right? Or did he? Could it be Summer’s soon-to-be ex-husband Sam (Karl Grusman)? He too is sketched as a few cards short of a full deck, introduced on CCTV footage cutting a stranger’s hair so he can turn it into art. Yeah, he’s weird. That’s not it! The cavalcade of creeps on the suspect list also includes Eli Phillips (Michael Pitt), a guy whose dad got screwed on a Grady deal. Did he kill Summer to get revenge?

As if that trio of potential murderers isn’t enough, the script by Singer, Benjamin Brewer, and Del Toro himself fills out a massive cast with the people in Tom’s orbit, including his wife Judy (an effective Alicia Silverstone), who helps him work angles on the case in some of the film’s best scenes. She’s fearless and intellectually engaged by discussing the case. She knows and loves Captain Robert Allen (Eric Bogosian), Tom’s boss, who is introduced with an MS diagnosis. Yes, this is one of those scripts where everyone has an instantly identifiable trait that tries to take a traditional character just a bit left of center, but it’s all over-written, exaggerated stuff that only reminds you that you’re in a movie.

Of course, it’s perfectly fine to be aware of a writer’s voice and director’s eye while watching a film—no one would say someone like Fincher is just quietly observing—but the problem with “Reptile” comes down to style vs. vision. There’s plenty of style here but it never feels like anything coheres into an actual vision. The great Mike Gioulakis (“It Follows,” “Split”) slides his camera through these imposing spaces, but to what end? Does it mean anything? The abundant style of “Reptile” feels increasingly hollow as its overlong 134 minutes unfold. Instead of tightening its grip, it tries to hold onto too many things at once and lands none of them, leaving subplots unresolved and characters inconsistent.

And yet there’s that performance in the center. Del Toro is so good here, capturing a man who has seen it all and just wants a peace that won’t come. He doesn’t overplay trauma or experience, just allows those elements to influence his body language and the stares from those unforgettable eyes. It’s also a playful performance at times as Tom uses elements of his journey into the world of real estate to influence his own home remodel. There are some decent turns in the ensemble—Silverstone, Bogosian, Pitt—but Del Toro is on another level, just existing in his own space. A space that belongs in a much better movie. 

This review was filed from the world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It will be on Netflix on October 6th.

Reptile movie poster

Reptile (2023)

Rated R

136 minutes


Benicio Del Toroas Tom Nichols

Justin Timberlakeas Will Grady

Alicia Silverstoneas Judy Nichols

Michael Pittas Eli Phillips

Karl Glusmanas Sam Gifford

Eric Bogosianas Captain Robert Allen

Frances Fisheras Camille Grady

Domenick Lombardozzias Wally

Owen Teagueas Rudi Rackozy

Matilda Lutzas Summer Elswick

Victor Rasukas Officer Peralta

Sky Ferreiraas Renee


  • Grant Singer

Writer (story by)

  • Grant Singer
  • Benjamin Brewer


  • Grant Singer
  • Benjamin Brewer
  • Benicio Del Toro


  • Mike Gioulakis


  • Kevin Hickman


  • Yair Elazar Glotman


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