This week saw a few films released in cinemas with none really catching anyone's eye. After doing a little research into the movies, not reading the reviews, we decided to see the new film starring Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver and Robert DeNiro, and directed by Buried director Rodrigo Cortes. That film was Red Lights, a film about paranormal investigators who prove illusionists to be frauds. After proving most of their subjects wrong they decide to investigate the one man who managed to evade their theory, a man who has resurfaced after 30 years of going AWOL, that man is Simon Silver played by DeNiro and Murphy and Weaver must see if they can crack his illusion.
This film has been touted as this year's The Sixth Sense, and it can be seen in the same light although it is nowhere near as good. The film does have the perfect tone for the style of the film but falls somewhat short of being a fantastic thriller and it ends up being an enjoyable yet forgetful film. The idea behind it is interesting and I'm sure most of the audience were intrigued watching Weaver and Murphy explain to students how illusionist and psychics con people into believing their powers are real, although it seems odd that students would take a University course in paranormal investigating. This is just one of the many plot problems the film has but the idea behind it is what keeps people going with it.
Another one of these plot holes is when an psychic is found out and arrested for fraud. I understand he was taking people's money but at the end of the day are people simply wanting to be entertained, magic is not real and people don't particularly want to know the process of the trick they just want to see it happen. This is a small problem with the film though and I suppose for the sake of the film we can go along with it. These negatives are evened up with the positives however, and they are the moments when the illusions are taking place. Silver manages to frighten his investigators without even being in the room, and levitates when he is in the room. These moments are the best parts and they are handled excellently by Cortes who has brought a creepy and tense feel to every sequence of the film.
The directing is brilliant, and although some moments of the script are a little too telling, the story is original, with this originality brought through by Cortes' directing. The small problems with the script are that Weaver's character seems to be lecturing each time she talks. Her character looks to be there to simply hand out the exposition to the audience so we can all understand how she can work out how these entertainers con us. Weaver herself is pretty good in the role it is just at times her lines bring her performance down. On the other hand Murphy was brilliant as Tom Buckley, with his fight scene being a highlight of his acting ability. Again his performance is slightly hindered by a twist that doesn't quite pay off in the way it is delivered to us. Again this moment of the film becomes very expositional and I feel it could have been handled in a much better way. DeNiro is not a major fixture in the film and puts in an on automatic performance. Looking back he seems wrong for the role and his final reveal is obvious, which is a shame for a film that could have really pulled the rug from beneath us.
The film is alright. It was never going to win any major awards but it is one that is interesting to delve into. The opening half is tense and creepy and thoroughly enjoyable but in the final half there are some pointless scenes and that early intrigue disappears before the final reveal comes out, which unfortunately isn't that big a deal. It isn't a film I was particularly looking forward to but it is one I did enjoy. There was nothing in the film I loved but nothing I really hated, it was just a film that was a pleasure to watch.
Pros: Murphy's performance and watching the way people manage to trick their audience.
Cons: A final payoff delivered in the wrong way and at times very expositional dialogue.
6 / 10
Top 10 films of 2012 so far:
1. The Hunger Games 8 / 10
2. Snow White And The Huntsman 8 / 10
3. Avengers Assemble 7.5 / 10
4. 21 Jump Street 7.5 / 10
5. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol 7 / 10
6. The Grey 7 / 10
7. Prometheus 6.5 / 10
8. American Reunion 6 / 10
9. Safe House 6 / 10
10. Red Lights 6 / 10