Will Grady (Justin Timberlake) is a real estate mogul from Scarborough who is dating an agent named Summer (Matilda Lutz). They cancel foreclosures on expensive homes in the area, under the watchful eye of Camille (Frances Fisher), Will’s mother, and there appears to be some tension in the relationship. One day, Will comes to meet Summer at a house she is showing and finds her brutally murdered.
The suspects quickly line up for Detective Tom Nichols (Del Toro) and his partner Dan Cleary (Ato Essandoh). First, Grady couldn’t be scarier – Timberlake leans way too hard into the gooey bottom of the silver-spoon kid of the kind of guy who almost immediately lines up a new girlfriend who looks a lot like his deceased. Will is clearly in some shady shit, but he found the body, right? Or did he? Could it be Summer’s future ex-husband, Sam (Karl Grusman)? He too is depicted as a few cards short of a full deck, shown on CCTV footage cutting a stranger’s hair so he can turn it into art. Yeah, he’s weird. It’s not that! The cavalcade of creeps on the suspect list also includes Eli Phillips (Michael Pitt), a guy whose father got screwed in a deal with Grady. Did he kill Summer for revenge?
As if this trio of potential murderers wasn’t enough, the screenplay by Singer, Benjamin Brewer and Del Toro himself complements a massive cast with the people around Tom, including his wife Judy (an effective Alicia Silverstone), who help. working different angles on the case in some of the film’s best scenes. She is fearless and intellectually engaged in discussing the case. She knows and loves Captain Robert Allen (Eric Bogosian), Tom’s boss, who is diagnosed with MS. Yes, it’s one of those scripts where everyone has an instantly identifiable trait that tries to take on a traditional character just a little left of center, but it’s overwritten, overblown stuff that only reminds you that you are in a movie.
Of course, it’s perfectly fine to be aware of a screenwriter’s voice and a director’s eye while watching a film – no one would say that someone like Fincher is just quietly observing – but the problem with “Reptile” comes down to style versus vision. There’s a lot of style here, but it never feels like anything matches an actual vision. The great Mike Gioulakis (“It Follows”, “Split”) slides his camera through these imposing spaces, but for what purpose? Does that mean anything? The lush style of “Reptile” feels increasingly hollow as its overlong 134 minutes unfold. Instead of tightening its grip, it tries to hold on to too many things at once and puts none down, leaving subplots unresolved and characters incoherent.