De Niro! Murphy! Olsen! Weaver! With a cast this talented, we weren’t expecting the outcome to be so bland. Having said that though, the film does manage to retain some good moments.
Margaret (Weaver) and Tom (Murphy) are two college professors working together to out fake psychics and disprove the presence of the paranormal. Their biggest, most high profile, test comes in the form of the biggest psychic in the game – Simon Silver (De Niro) – who returning from retirement, has decided to embark on a hotly anticipated comeback tour.
Red Lights is supposedly a psychological thriller however it neither gets under your skin nor scares youl. One thing it does do though is remind you of just how undiscerning De Niro is nowadays and of how underrated Murphy is. De Niro’s Silver, in his perfectly tailored suits, impeccably styled silver hair, sunglasses and a spotlight that constantly follows him around, has a hugely commanding aura, one that our team of sceptics could never hope to match; it’s easy to understand why audiences would be enamoured by him and choose to believe in the irrational.
De Niro gives a strong performance, one that, to the film’s detriment, isn’t matched by either Weaver or Murphy. While the former just seems to be going through the motions, the latter is hampered by a third act twist that feels forced at best, illogical at worst and effects his character the most out of the three leads.
The film strives for the kind of ending that creeps up on you and whispers gotcha – the kind that you never see coming without the benefit of hindsight. Unfortunately, it’s in no way successful and feels tacked on even with the help of flashbacks which carry little signs throughout that supposedly point to the twist. Considering that the rest of the film falls on the entertaining side of average, the ending is doubly disappointing.
The film is also pretty heavy-handed and oftentimes, very literal. It’s the type that considers a guy waking up a woman from her sleep to tell her to get some rest, a good opener; and has another character momentarily take off his sunglasses for the sole purpose of zooming in on his eyes to show the audience that yes, he’s blind. It flings information at you to the result that it’s very difficult to get into the story and let it carry you away. It’s pretty jarring and not in the way you’d want and expect from a thriller.
As a whole, the film isn’t too bad but everyone involved in this film has done far superior work elsewhere.