Friday 17 May 2024

Movie Review: Red Lights (2012)

Genre: Investigative Thriller  
Director: Rodrigo Cortés  
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones  
Running Time: 114 minutes  

Synopsis: Academic physicists Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Dr. Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) run a side-business debunking psychics and paranormal advocates. Margaret's student Sally (Elizabeth Olsen) joins their investigations and starts a romance with Tom. When celebrity blind psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) surprisingly comes out of retirement, Tom is eager to expose him as a fraud, but Margaret is more careful.

What Works Well: The first act introduces interesting characters and adds depth to Dr. Matheson through a side story involving her son, while the debunking sessions and academic sparring with rival physicist Dr. Shackleton (Toby Jones) are sharp. The cast members battle valiantly to prop-up the disintegrating script.

What Does Not Work As Well: Writer and director Rodrigo Cortés clumsily steers into a bewildering narrative turn about halfway through, and the drama never recovers. The remainder of the film is a toothless exercise in silly special effects, the gritted-teeth obsession with a touring entertainer never close to supporting the weight of unfolding carnage. Another attempt at a late twist arrives with the never-good sudden introduction of narration and carries all the impact of a wet noodle.

Conclusion: Accelerates with promise, but then stops dead.

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