Man from Reno is a 2014 thriller/mystery directed by Dave Boyle. While there are interesting aspects of the film, why it has a high score on rotten tomatoes is beyond me. The film fails to meet basic genre expectations.

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Now, before we go into the story, we should recognize the shining beacon of the film. The acting is excellent. Ayako Fujitani plays a young mystery novelist (Aki) who is thrown into a deadly mystery after meeting Kazuki Kitamura, a young charmer (Akira) who vanishes shortly after. Both Fujitani and Kitamura do fantastic jobs in their roles. I originally watched this film after hearing the Kitamura was in it after watching his fantastic work in Killers (2014). He is likewise impressive in this film.

To be fair, all of the actors are excellent here. The directing is solid, the characters are real, but the script limits their interactions. The fun of mysteries is that the audience can play along. In Man from Reno, we are left in the dark far too long about what the actual mystery is, or what is actually happening. Instead of playing detective, we are in the dark along with Aki. When the final reveal eventually comes, I felt myself saying “oh, okay” instead of anything that resembled shock or investment.

Is the film worth seeing? Yes, and no. The fantastic performances are worth a watch, but the limitations that the narrative imposes onto itself makes the film frustrating. If the movie had been bad all around it would be more forgivable. With this film, the audience can see the greatness that was missed. Keep one eye on the folks involved in this film. I think their next efforts might correct the mistakes of this one. If you want an interesting, albeit frustrating thriller, give this a try. 5/10

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