Red Lights Review
Year: 2012Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro and Cillian Murphy
Directed: Rodrigo Cortés
Running Time: 113 Mins Approx.
Rodrigo Cortés well, well here’s a familiar name the writer of apartment 143, and director of buried (psychological war thriller starring Ryan Reynolds) so this is a big stab at Hollywood for him then I guess with a modest budget of 14million euros.
This guy is used to working with and doing some decent things with much less so let’s start with the film.
Psychologist and paranormal investigator Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver yes good old Sigourney we love you and most of people my age remember you as a kick ass Ripley in the alien franchise, a solid support role here in this film) and her assistant Dr. Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy how you have grown from flashing todger in the opening scenes of 28 days later, the underrated sunshine to scarecrow in batman begins, a good actor who plays alongside Weavers character in their scenes with ease) who is a physicist. They both travel around debunking supposed paranormal activity from bumps in the night to stage psychics, exposing anything from their tricks, noises and stage theatrics.Dr. Buckley wants to investigate their most challenging person to date, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro who if you don’t know his old or even more recent filmography you sir/mam have been living under a rock for almost 50 years. Though nearing 80 the workhorse seems to show no signs of slowing down movie wise with over 6 films coming out next year alone!), a renowned psychic who is making a comeback after a thirty year absence from the stage.
Dr. Matheson warns Buckley against this though after having come up against him in the 1970s and failing to prove him a fraud. With the help of student Sally Owen (Elisabeth Olsen good old Olsen the other sister! Is slowly picking up steam in the movie world too, the strange and probably one day reviewed silent house springs to mind with her) Buckley defies Matheson and begins investigating the illusive Silver.
As an atheist and sceptic the film's ideas appealed to me I enjoy it whenever someone like Colin Fry or Derrick Acorah get snubbed, unfortunately my fiancée loves shit like that. I was delighted to watch the scientists make fun of and debunk people who claim to see ghosts and be able to read minds. The script treats these people with distain and isn't afraid to mention how these people can be responsible for giving stupid people false hope and can even cost lives, which is one of the things I hate they do, they reckon their helping grief etc., NO its false hope that something is there. Now I’m open minded IF there is a god or some higher being by even a % chance and their as forgiving as they say, I’m generally a good person and I hope that’s all they’d want, well I would bow down and accept my wrong judgement.The cast is also amongst the best of any thriller/horror film this year as I said earlier. With actors such as Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Toby Jones, Joely Richardson, the delightful Elizabeth Olsen and one of my favourite actors Robert De Niro, anything less than a great film would be a disappointment. Unfortunately, this isn't a great film but it isn't terrible either.
The cast are all great. It's nice to see Sigourney Weaver in a more substantial role for a change and not just popping up at the end of a sci-fi film. She is believable as a psychologist and its fun to see her spa with Toby Jones. Her character also has just the tiniest bit of doubt which makes her fallible and this is conveyed well by the actress this brought about most likely by the previous encounter with De Niro’s character.Cillian Murphy is also excellent as the physicist but is a bit more mysterious than Weaver. He gets better as his character develops as the film progresses. Elisabeth Olsen gives another good performance but after her break out roles in Mary, Martha and Silent House takes a bit of a back seat here. De Niro doesn't embarrass himself for once which unfortunately in a few recent films he has, while we don't get De Niro of the 70s or 80s he's on good form here. The supporting cast of Submarine's Craig Roberts, Joely Richardson and Toby Jones help to round out a great cast with good performances.
The plot develops at a good pace and it gets darker and scarier as it goes on. I wasn't able to get the main twist which was a satisfying if ever so slightly confusing one but De Niro's twists were ridiculously obvious and pointed to far too much. Anyone can see what is going on, you just have to watch. The camera work is far too busy for my liking. One scene featuring Murphy and Olsen having a conversation in a café used about seven different camera angles and it became a little distracting. After filming Ryan Reynolds in a box for his last feature Buried, director Rodrigo Cortes could have done with making his latest film a bit more confined.
The first hour is definitely better than the second and there was an echo of "oh, well then" as the lights went up in the cinema. The film loses its way slightly in the second half and the somewhat pedestrian script comes to the forefront. While the actors do a good job and while there is plenty to like the ending isn't brilliant and doesn't do the opening justice. Even so, it's nice to watch some great actors delivering good performances and the twists should keep most people guessing the ending really isn’t something you’d guess, I’ve said countless times on here that I’m fed up of not being surprised anymore. I was generally like oh! With this film.
Giving this film for a mainstream film a solid 3 stars but it is definitely worth a watch over a choice of this or some of the other b-movie/cinema tripe out there.