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159 out of 207 people found the following review useful:

Yes, yes, yes, yes, NO!

Author: mueslibrekkies from United Kingdom
17 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sigourney Weaver plays Margeret Matheson, a jaded middle-aged psychologist. If you've seen Avatar it's the same character she plays in that but with a bit less vitriol. I liked this character; a firm woman,but fair and kind when she needs to be. This is a character we've all met in real life at some point. She's compelling and extremely well acted by Weaver. In every scene you're completely hooked by the show she puts on.

Cillian Murphy's character, Tom Buckley, is a little more mysterious. He plays a Physicist (allegedly) who accompanies Matheson on her expeditions to debunk fake mediums and psychics. The character is written with little back story and what little back story that is introduced remains cryptic. The role is well acted but outshone by the better conceived, better written character of Matheson.

The film starts out well. The first scene (a prologue/intro sequence) is suspenseful and I thought it worked really well. Both Weaver's and Murphy's characters are introduced well and chemistry is established right from the first scene.

The best thing about this film is the atmosphere. Every scene is absolutely dripping with it. The direction as well is tasteful and strong. Little touches like the camera shaking a little more in every scene that Matheson is in (to show her questionable health) are very effective and add to the feel.

This 2 hour film trundles along at a steady pace, fleshing out Matheson and Buckley (sort of) and introducing a completely irrelevant love interest for Buckley. She plays little role in the story and could be cut entirely.

We follow them as they expose a Psychic as a fake. They perform surveillance in the crowd before the show, spotting so called "Red Lights" (employees of the Psychic who scout potential targets for the psychiching later) and hacking into the radio frequency that is used to communicated with the Psychic on stage and tell him names and other secrets to fool the audience into thinking he's actually got a gift. Looking good so far.

We are shown Matheson's inner turmoil; her sick son. Apparently in a coma for over a decade, the soft, squishy side of such a apparently tough woman is laid bare. Apparently her zeal for exposing fake psychics stems from her inability to let him go. She uses him as an excuse almost, each case shown to be a fake solidifying her belief that there's no afterlife and justifying her keeping him alive. Besides a spot of clumsy writing with some un-needed overexposition (a bit of a theme with this film I'm afraid) the time spent in the hospital room really opens up Matheson's character.

And then she dies.

Seriously, she dies. Why? I don't know. Matheson, the most fleshed out and built up character just up and dies. Such a pointless grab at an emotional scene completely kicks the legs out from under the film. There's no reason why the Matheson character couldn't have been included in the rest of the film, she just disappear. This was supposed to be a parallel of a past event in the story, where Simon Silver's (a blind, formerly extremely famous psychic (Robert De Niro)) biggest critic mysteriously died from a heart attack. However it is very, very loosely linked and barely explained.

The latter half of the film we focus on Buckley as he becomes obsessed with discovering Simon Silver as a fraud. Buckley, now apparently the main character, slowly seems to get more and more unhinged as he's apparently haunted by Silver. Birds spontaneously fly into windows near him, things go bump in the night, equipment explodes randomly etc etc. The void left by Matheson never quite goes away though, for all the wrong reasons.

Silver is eventually found to not be a fraud after a heavy duty scientific study but Buckley unleashes his trying-so-hard-to-do-an-American-accent student(Ben, Craig Roberts) on the footage from the experiment who eventually comes up with nothing. Suddenly, love interest (who I'd completely forgotten about) comes along and spots that Silver's watch and the other scientist performing the test's watch are perfectly in sync. Ignoring the fact that Silver was told to remove his watch earlier in the scene and the fact that the other (unintroduced) scientist is apparently totally alright with jeopardising his scientific career for whatever Silver is paying him, this reveal is pretty weak and totally not characteristic of actual scientific study.

Buckley confronts Silver on stage at his last show (after being beaten thoroughly to fine mush by one of Silver's minions) and the theatre goes mad. Lights explode, ceilings crack, the ground shakes, Silver's glasses fall off. This is all very exciting and you really wonder how Silver is pulling it all off. You wait for the great reveal. The turmoil subsides and Buckley flicks a coin at Silver who snatches it out of the air, revealing he is not in fact blind and is a fraud. This is where the film should have ended.

And then Silver says that one line. That simple 5 word line that completely ruins the entire film. "How did you do that"

Yep, you got it. Buckley, the mysterious physicist, the man obsessed with revealing Silver as a fraud, is the true Psychic. This is a twist so violent and random it finally breaks the films neck. It completely mangles the whole tone, message, moral; anything this film had is now gone. The mystery and tension evaporates like a flock of birds after a gunshot. The intrigue at how these apparently impossible events could have possibly happened to Buckley is moot. All of this in the last 5 minutes of the film. I have never known a film be more thoroughly ruined in such an thorough and accurate way.

5/10. The story is nearly there, the acting is generally good, the atmosphere created is stellar, but those last 5 minutes are truly horrifying.

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78 out of 122 people found the following review useful:

Paranormal Piffle

Author: Dharmendra Singh from Birmingham, England
21 June 2012

Not much has been made of it, but 'Red Lights' has a twist which, I don't care how attentive or clever you are, you will simply not predict. Paranormal-themed films are getting to be quite stale, but the ending, which actually has two twists, is marvellous and might - might - galvanise the genre.

Sigourney Weaver and Cillian (pronounced 'Kill-ian') Murphy play Doctors Matheson and Buckley. They're a psychologist and physicist who investigate psychic claims. Invariably they come away from each case laughing. Every one is explained scientifically; rationally. They're exposed as magic tricks.

Recent roles haven't reflected why Weaver, who is nearly 65, has been so prolific of late, but here she excels. Her character is meant to be an expert and, because of the plausibility she exudes, that's exactly how I viewed her. Writer-director Rodrigo Cortes' ('Buried') excellent script assists her characterisation. Intellectual, detailed, life-like: you could be mistaken, at moments, for watching a TV show debate. Murphy gets similar credit. He invests in his role a seriousness which might have been silly if he did so in isolation.

The doctors find their match in Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a famous psychic who comes out of retirement for one last pay check. He's the only one Weaver won't investigate because 'he's the only one who makes her doubt'. Murphy insists, however, but when he does, he – we – uncover more than we were expecting.

Like you (I hope), I'm convinced that psychic ability is balderdash. So I was more than impressed at how Cortes creates a mood and a tempo that keeps you guessing until the dramatic end. His film is original, suspenseful and, most importantly for a film with this premise, credible.

But then there's De Niro, my favourite actor. Always has been. Always will be. But my God has he been making it hard for me these past 20 years. He once said that he was an actor, not a personality. I think it's time for him to update his personal quote book. Why do I say this? Because (and I deeply regret admitting this) he's the single biggest reason why 'Red Lights', regardless of Weaver's and Murphy's endeavours and the superb final twist, will join his expanding cannon of fodder.

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60 out of 88 people found the following review useful:

Some good twists, some poor twists and some excellent actors

Author: Tom Gooderson-A'Court ( from United Kingdom
23 June 2012

Psychologist and paranormal investigator Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant Dr. Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) a physicist travel around debunking supposed paranormal activity from bumps in the night to stage psychics. Dr. Buckley wants to investigate their most challenging person to date, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a redound 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) Buckley defies Matheson and begins investigating the illusive Silver.

As a radical atheist and sceptic the film's ideas appealed to me. 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. The cast is also amongst the best of any film this year. With actors such as Signourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Toby Jones, Joely Richardson, the delightful Elizabeth Olsen and my all time favourite actor Robert De Niro, anything less than a great film would be a disappointment. Well, 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 it's 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. 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 Safe House takes a bit of a back seat here. De Niro, who as I said is my all time favourite actor doesn't embarrass himself for once and 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, Joley Richardson, Toby Jones and English language newcomer Leonardo Sbaraglia 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.

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44 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Lights at the end of tunnel.

Author: alangsco from Scotland
19 June 2012

Firstly, apologies for the review title. I've seen too many tabloid headlines.

Red Lights was reasonably original, well-written and well-acted. Any movie that can tick these three boxes is worth a look. Although the build up to the introduction of De Niro's character (Simon Silver) represented a slightly excessive portion of the movie it was, nevertheless, interesting. I gather the ending has divided opinion quite a lot, and I admit that it could have been done much better. I've said before when reviewing movies that it's never a good sign when you have to have a character explicitly explain just what has happened in the film. It might have been a better idea to leave it without the explanation and let the audience decide. That might have stoked up debate in a good way and generated some more interest in the film.

Acting-wise i'm sorry to say i'm always skeptical when Robert De Niro appears in a movie nowadays. The man was a terrific actor in his day, but he's been in a lot of recent turkeys. He doesn't have a lot of screen-time here but his performance was fine. If he keeps choosing credible films like this one his reputation will start to repair itself. Sigourney Weaver performs with credit as usual and I always rate Cillian Murphy highly.

Definitely worth going to see this. It's above average, if only slightly.

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74 out of 126 people found the following review useful:

An intelligent mystery

Author: snodlander from United Kingdom
21 June 2012

I wasn't sure what to expect from the trailers. Gore and horror aren't my thing, unless it's done well, and so few are these days. However, I was pleasantly surprised. This has less to do with the supernatural and more to do with belief systems in a modern world.

The story focuses upon two scientist professors that fill in the time between classes by investigating and exposing psychic frauds, be they petulant schoolgirls or venal evangelists. So when Murphy presses to investigate a famous mystic, why is Weaver so reluctant to agree? Is De Niro gifted with extraordinary powers, or a clever con artist? The atmosphere becomes more menacing and oppressive as the film progresses, leaving me wondering whether Murphy was becoming paranoid, or whether De Niro really was targeting him. The end, though not exactly the Sixth Sense ending some are proclaiming, was certainly unexpected.

Great acting from the leads, as you would expect. Great dialogue. Not much in the way of action, nor thankfully schlock horror, but the tension mounted throughout the film. A clever and satisfying film.

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71 out of 129 people found the following review useful:

Something new, something worth watching

Author: Max Keswick from United Kingdom
15 June 2012

I was not expecting this movie to be the awesomeness that it was. De Niro and Weaver were the only reason I wanted to watch this movie, but I am glad I did!

This movie attacks the tired old concept of 'is ESP real?' with new vigour, new ideas and explanations. Not a single shot of the movie is unnecessary or a 'filler' shot. And none of the 'scary movie' theatrics to keep you on edge.

It has the right story line, right people and the right scenes to take you where it wants to take you, without the additional drama, not that it doesn't have some clever twists.

This is a 'clever' movie, doesn't spell out everything for you, makes you want to watch it carefully so as to not miss a thing. All in all, its one of the best thriller movies I have seen.

I completely recommend watching it!

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55 out of 99 people found the following review useful:

Terrible movie from start to finish

Author: dankoni from United States
17 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I honestly don't how, or why, this "film" made it beyond a random thought in some idiot's drug addled brain. The entire concept is flawed. I read in another post that the director did a great deal of research because he wanted the film to be "believable?" Are you kidding? This is, without a doubt, one of the worst movies I have ever seen... and that's including what plays behind the hilarious characters of MST3K. The only reason to sit through this train wreck is if you are really stoned and want something to dissect and laugh at.

At one point about halfway into the film, I commented to my wife, "Maybe De Niro is just a regular, old, blind guy and all of this is in his head. A sort of fantasy he made up to entertain himself as he trudges through the daily routine." It was supposed to be a joke, but a testament to the awful reality of the script was my wife's response: "That would actually be a better idea for a movie!"

Honestly, we only finished watching for two reasons: 1) We were having a great time making fun of it. 2) We wanted to see what laughable "twist" was coming at the end. The twist did not disappoint. **SPOILERS** De Niro wasn't really blind. OOOHHHHHHH!!! Couldn't see that one coming ten thousand miles away. The second twist? I'll let you find out, but it's just silly and certainly not worth sitting through the film, if that's the only reason you're still watching after the first 20 minutes.

Now this section will contain many SPOILERS, as I want to respond to some of the more ridiculous plot points:

1. Is this supposed to be some alternate reality, as other reviewers have stated, where any of the subject matter of this script actually matters... to anyone? If so, they did not do a good job of establishing this fact. The movie makes it seems as though psychic frauds are PLAGUING the world and must be fought with the fervor of the war on terror, or the drug war. Which, incidentally I do not agree with, but at least those would make sense for a movie plot.

2. De Niro is supposed to be some master villain, hellbent on destroying people's lives, but they never really cover any terrible act he's committing. Ohhhh... he's a fraud who fleeces people for money... AND?! Who gives a sh!7? Am I supposed to care that much about idiots giving their money to a conman? He's no worse than a televangelist. Did they show him raping women and children? Was he shown stealing money from thousands of sick and poor people? No. So who cares what some hack psychic does with his time?

3. The scene where they bust the fraudulent faith healer is hilarious. First, Sigourney and Cillian are using some high-tech spy gear to bust the guy, and for some reason the police are with them. OK. When the bust occurs, the director makes a half-assed attempt to make it look like the whole production is being run by biker meth dealing types? I assume that's what he was going for. The bust concludes with the cops hauling the faith healer off to prison... for... I'm not sure. In this world, I guess being a faith healer is some major crime that gets you locked away for life? I doubt they even broke any laws, scummy as the characters might be.

4. Sigourney Weaver's death. WTF? Did those people on the talk show kill her? Cillian just finds her dead after the talk show got out of hand. And why are they portraying the talk show appearance as though it would matter at all? In most believable worlds, Sigourney's appearance would be little more than an episode of some daytime talk show, or a blurb in a TLC programs on debunking paranormal claims. Yet, Cillian is watching this event unfold on his television screen as though he's watching a State of the Union address, or some debate that has ANY consequences to important matters. Again... who cares? Cillian's character, I guess. The audience sure wasn't lead to a place of caring by this point in the script.

5. Near the end of the film, the "scientist" who ran the experiment on De Niro is about to publish his findings that the demonstrated psychic phenomena was real. This is supposed to be a HUGE deal for some reason, that ONE scientist at ONE university published a study. This also goes against the point other reviewers posted that this script takes place in a universe where everyone is interested in the paranormal and the public widely believes in paranormal abilities. If that is the case, then why would this study be a big deal? I think this point shows that the writer/director wanted this script to take place in the real world, which is absolute insanity. Anyway... back to the topic. This scene is ridiculous! Scientist publish controversial findings all the time. The movie acts as though the second this study is signed and published, the world as we know it will come to an end. Up will become down. Black will become white. Yadda yadda. Who... gives... a... sh17?! Studies like this one HAVE been published in the real world and no one cared. So... why would anyone care about a fictionalization of a common occurrence? It's all just so terrible.

"Review" continued below...

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58 out of 105 people found the following review useful:

Not impressed. Too hollow, self-conflicting, unfulfilled

Author: Hamish Joy from India
21 September 2012

Unimpressed. I liked the theme that the movie was hinting towards in the beginning. Scientists evaluating and debunking pseudo-science and psychic phenomena. Reminded me of the Great James Randi. But within minutes, it was clear that even that aspects are mangled up. Some investigations are shown without the results/ explanations given in detail. The debunks are simplistic, and talk about some of the common/ popular psychic cons, but never in detail; I wonder if people would catch it unless they are already familiar with the cons via documentaries and other shows.

I was particularly irritated about how they administered the Astrology chart test devised by James Randi, and popularized via "Pen & Teller: Bulls**t" episode. Cilian Murphy's character administered the test, and then left the scene without explaining the point of the exercise, which is a shame.

I liked Sigourney Weaver's character in the beginning, but the character turned out to be so poorly threshed out; not a lot better than a caricature of a pseudo-science skeptic.

I understand a lot of people have problems with the movie's ending. I can understand the frustration. The climactic twist takes away from the central premise, it reminded me of 'The Reaping' in some way. And besides being incongruous to the main storyline, it further had the problem of being very poorly executed.

Overall, I'd rate it around 4 out of 10. Not great.

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21 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

A total let down of a movie

Author: paulomars
23 October 2012

I had high hopes for this movie after reading some of the glowing reviews on this site. I figured that with Weaver and De Niro this had to be on course. I will admit that the first 45 minutes of the movie are excellent, engrossing and you really feel like you are on course for something special. But then it all goes horribly wrong. It turns into a total circus with a VERY easy to predict plot. I've read reviews of people saying stuff about needing to be a genius to figure this movie out. The clues are blatantly obvious! As for the characters, it's the best I've seen Weaver since the Alien movies. As for De Niro, why does he keep choosing roles that are just not suited to De Niro? Murphy is best sticking to being a slime bad guy.

This could have been a genuinely good story but turned out to be a poor imitation of an M Night Shyamalan movie. I cannot recommend this movie.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Don't waste your time

Author: phd_travel from United States
27 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With a good cast like this how could it collapse so terribly? A terrible story with very bad direction.

The story starts off with some potential - investigating and debunking bogus paranormal claims. Then it just totally falls apart with a disgusting toilet beating up and anti climactic ending.

The direction is terrible with cheap shock tactics and over dramatic music.

I know it's hard to get roles after a certain age but Sigourney and Robert are way too good for such a bad story. Even Cillian is too good for this movie.

Just don't bother at all.

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