“Everyone is a suspect.”Tom Nichols
At the heart of Grant Singer’s thriller is a captivating performance by Benicio Del Toro, reminiscent of his turn in Sicario, as a beaten-down cop who’s past trauma and world-weariness inform his posture and movement as much as his expression, and one only wishes that this portrayal could be transferred to a more deserving film than Reptile. Over the course of a single investigation into the murder of a real estate agent, officer Tom Nichols comes to question the loyalty of everyone around him. Singer succeeds in replicating the ominous tension of Fincher’s thrillers, but he does so without modulation — to have the same unsettling tone pervade every inoccuous action for over two hours is artlessly gruelling. Likewise, plot developments arise suddenly and inorganically, with no clues for sharp-eyed viewers to pick up. The result is an exhausting experience for a rapidly disengaged audience. The supporting performances are generally adequate but hampered by the script, with only Alicia Silverstone standing out as Tom’s wife, acting as a sounding board and assisting his investigative process. The quality of Del Toro’s work is enough to keep us on the hook but, as Reptile reaches its inevitably violent conclusion after two hours, the audience certainly shares in Tom’s fatigue.