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LA Film Fest 2014: ‘Man from Reno’ – Film Review

Man from Reno is a complex crime thriller, full of twists, surprises, mistaken identities, and more. At times, it’s a little too complex, making it difficult to keep track of exactly what’s going on from one twist to the next, but, nonetheless, it’s an intense and engaging film that most mystery/thriller fans will enjoy.

One dark night, driving in thick, thick fog, Sherriff Del Moral accidentally hits a man with his car. He takes him to the hospital, but before he can question him the next morning, the man checks himself out and disappears without a trace.

Meanwhile, Aki, the bestselling author of a Japanese mystery series, is on a book tour in San Francisco, when she meets a handsome and mysterious man. After taking him back to her hotel room (and abandoning her book tour in the process), he too disappears without a trace. Curious about who he really was and where he went, she uses her skills as a mystery writer to look for clues and try to track him down.

For both Aki and Del Moral, the situation quickly escalates. Del Moral finds a dead body that may or may not be his accident victim, while Aki finds herself pursued by a number of shady and dangerous-looking characters who seem to think that her mystery man left her with something before he disappeared. Eventually, the paths and stories of our two heroes converge, and while they don’t actually team up, they each have pieces of the puzzle that are able to help the other in solving their mystery.

Crafting a good mystery story is not an easy task. Too often, they fall into clichés or insert clues that feel forced and tacked on, making the resolution feel unsatisfying. While Man from Reno isn’t a perfect film, it deftly manages to avoid these pitfalls. All the clues are laid out, and they all fit together neatly—while still keeping the audience guessing, all the way up until the final piece falls into place.

Some viewers may still be scratching their heads at the end, trying to wrap their minds around all the different twists and turns that happen every few minutes in the film. The mystery makes sense, but it’ll still have your head spinning if you think about it too hard. So, it’s best, rather than trying to track every twist and surprise, just to sit back and enjoy it for what it is. It’s a fun, smart mystery/thriller that will shock, baffle, and, ultimately, entertain.


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