Two investigators of paranormal hoaxes, the veteran Dr. Margaret Matheson and her young assistant, Tom Buckley, study the most varied metaphysical phenomena with the aim of proving their fraudulent origins. Simon Silver, a legendary blind psychic, reappears after an enigmatic absence of 30 years to become the greatest international challenge to both orthodox science and professional sceptics. Tom starts to develop an intense obsession with Silver, whose magnetism becomes stronger with each new manifestation of inexplicable events. As Tom gets closer to Silver, tension mounts, and his worldview is threatened to its core.
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Slick, sophisticated beginning, quickly sinks into mediocrity, partially because director Rodrigo Cortes's ambitious mission and script are too erudite; his preoccupation and ardour of science and the cloudy, empirical world of the paranormal becomes detrimental, confusing; looses its path and the audience.
Sigourney Weaver plays "Dr. Margaret Matheson" a psychologist specializing in debunking, exposing sensational, charlatan psychics. The part was written with her in mind and she owns it completely. She is assisted by "Tom Buckley" (gifted, beautiful Irish actor, Cillian Murphy, at first viable, flounders, fades as a legitimate scientist); the power of the film rests in their relationship; in one classroom scene they demonstrate how the paranormal mystique can be achieved by slight of hand, diversion, chiaroscuro . It was a partnership that, with a rewrite could have earned the film another star.
Robert De Niro, as blind "Simon Silver" the slimiest and most renown of the psychics, emerges after a thirty-year hiatus, to taunt and tempt the disbelievers; mesmerize, followers; his ranting oratories, enhanced by pyrotechnics, gimmicks at the Cirque du Soleil level, veins popping, screaming at a preacher's pitch are laughable annoyances.
Elizabeth Olsen is totally miscast as "Sally" a precocious student, romantically involved with Tom. "Sally", sadly should have been eliminated from the script; her mundane lines, and affected intelligence were an embarrassing distraction; largest sin: the complete lack of chemistry between she and Tom.
In conclusion Cortes should have paid heed to Occam's Razor: "Red Lights" lacked an economy of succinctness; inaccessible, unsatisfying solutions, to the unnatural occurrences of the inexplicable phenomena of the paranormal.
This had the makings of a good movie. Good idea, great cast, sigourney weaver, Robert de Niro to name two and lots of money for special effecs! Unfortunately...it disappoints! From about twenty mins in it gets completely lost in it's own need to impress. It becomes even more confusing later on when scenes are added for no apparent reason and more questions are left unanswered than answered! I liked the twist at the end but it wasn't delivered with enough impact and the amazing actors weren't given enough material to work with. Wait for the DVD to be released and then give it six months to come down to less than a fiver before you give it a try!