Star-Studded Netflix Neo-Noir Crime Thriller Quickly Becomes Comedy Of Errors

By Robert Scucci | Published

shimmer lake

If executed poorly, the use of non-linear storytelling can turn a good idea into a terrible movie. Netflix’s Shimmer Lake, on the other hand, is a solid crime thriller comedy that will make you feel as proud as you did the first time you watched Pulp Fiction or Memento. Treading the line between serious neo-noir and black comedy, Shimmer Lake subverts every expectation while slowly delivering its twists and turns throughout each of its four acts.

Starting At The End

Shimmer Lake’s timeline takes place across four days. Starting on Friday, we’re introduced to Andy Sikes (Rainn Wilson), who is hiding in his basement unbeknownst to his wife, Martha (Angela Vint), three days after botching what should have been a routine bank robbery.

Starting at the end, we’re clued into the fact that Andy’s brother, Zeke (Benjamin Walker), is searching for Andy because he’s the sheriff tasked with solving the case. Small towns typically don’t have enough resources at their disposal for this kind of investigation, so two lazy and hapless FBI agents, Kyle Walker (Ron Livingston) and Kurt Biltmore (Rob Corddry) are introduced to the premise.

From Heist To Murder Mystery

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Since Shimmer Lake tells its story in reverse as it works its way back to Tuesday, when the robbery took place, everybody at this point is extremely frustrated in their attempts to track down Andy and his accomplices, Chris Morrow (Mark Rendall) and Ed Burton (Wyatt Russell).

To make matters more complicated, Judge Brad Dawkins (John Michael Higgins) is found dead in his house, turning Shimmer Lake into not just a story about a bank heist, but also a murder mystery.


Making sure to not reveal the plot points that have led to this “final scene,” Shimmer Lake expertly takes us through the preceding days, ending with the actual heist that set the whole story in motion. But the storytelling isn’t the only thing that makes this movie work.

Rainn Wilson’s Andy, who is suspected by Zeke to have orchestrated the entire heist, is so flaccid and deadpan that you can’t help but laugh at his predicament as he tries to figure out a way to hightail it to Mexico with the money from the robbery.

The FBI Agents

Shimmer Lake also gets points for casting Ron Livingston and Rob Corddry as the FBI agents, because their characters clearly don’t want to be there. In other words, you have a sheriff who is treading lightly because he knows his brother is the person of interest in this case, as well as federal agents who are willing to pass the buck so they can ride out an easy assignment. If you’ve ever watched Office Space, then you already know how convincing Livingston can when his character reluctantly has to do something as egregious as the job that he’s being paid to do.

Stream It Now

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I really can’t get into the nitty-gritty of Shimmer Lake without spoiling the big reveals that take place past its initial Friday setup, but you have to believe me when I say that your expectations won’t be met.

I mean this as a compliment, as the crucial information that you need to put the whole story togther is held back with such restraint, you won’t believe your eyes when you finally work your way back to the events that occurred on Tuesday.

You’ll just have to watch the mystery neatly unfold as it follows its sloppy suspects through their journey in reverse chronological order.

Shimmer Lake is yet another fantastic Netflix original that I wish I hadn’t slept on for so long. From its masterful storytelling to its strong casting, you’re a fool if you don’t want to check this one out because it will take you on a wild ride.