Reptile review – Benicio Del Toro looms large in gruesomely ambitious noir

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Del Toro co-scripts and stars as a tough detective with a somewhat grimy past charged with investigating a horrific killing

Grant Singer is an A-list music video director who is now making a tough, ambitious but flawed feature debut with a film he co-scripted with his producer-star Benicio Del Toro, alongside Benjamin Brewer. It’s a noir procedural thriller, with Del Toro as seasoned cop Tommy Nichols, noted for his stolid impassive professionalism, who has just taken up a new job in Maine. Tommy left his old station in Philadelphia under suspicion of having covered up for a corrupt partner; he is a guy respected in the ranks for his honesty, but also for his code of omerta loyalty to his fellow officers. Tommy is married to Judy (a nice performance from Alicia Silverstone) who is a supportive and worldly cop wife, whose relatives in this close-knit community helped Tommy get the job. Eric Bogosian plays the captain; Domenick Lombardozzi is a faintly sinister, knuckleheaded detective with a side-hustle security business, and Ato Essandoh is the rookie cop with whom Tommy is partnered.

Tommy gets along perfectly well with this new set of guys, with all their sexist and homophobic banter, but they are uneasy to see Tommy, a newcomer, leading the investigation into a sensationally gruesome murder. A woman working as a realtor (that is: an estate agent) was stabbed to death with horrifying ferocity in one of the houses she was showing. Prime suspect would appear to be this woman’s partner and fellow realtor Will Grady, played with intelligence and poise by Justin Timberlake; he may have discovered that she was cheating on him, but then the couple’s ruthless habit of buying up mortgage-foreclosure properties at knockdown prices could have earned them enemies elsewhere. Moreover, Will, in a rather Hitchcockian touch, has a close relationship with his formidable widowed mother Camille (Frances Fisher) whose late husband actually founded the property business.

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