January 17, 2014

Movie: Red Lights (2012)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:32 am

imageThis movie sets up high expectations. Consider the facts : It is billed as a psychological thriller (you expect something along the lines of Fracture or Side Effects; It has a big star cast – you have Robert De Nero, Cillian Murphy and Sigourney Weaver in it.  And I had heard that there is a twist ending. (Again you expect something like Frailty, not  to mention The Sixth Sense or The Usual Suspects)  But does it live up to it?

Dr Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) has made it her life’s ambition to debunk the so called paranormal phenomena, especially faith healers. He is ably helped by the equally dedicated but younger Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy). The first few scenes of the movie show how they debunk faith healers – they employ  high tech gadgetry to detect fraudulent techniques employed. A faith healer seems to call forth names from audiences seemingly at random and knows intimate details about them that amaze the entire audience, until the  duo find out that he has a tiny speaker in his ear and there is a whole backroom operation feeding him information based on what they have found out – and expose him. Nice stuff. All interesting and intelligent.

Enter Simon Silver in the picture. One of the greatest psychics with multiple talents for reading minds, he was the best known and retired several years ago amid allegations that one of his subjects died after his ‘treatment’.  It is even more amazing since he has this power almost as if in compensation for being fully blind.

When he announces a comeback, Tom is raring to take a crack at him – here is an opportunity of a lifetime to debunk a legend like Simon. But curiously, Dr Matheson is reluctant. It turns out that a critic of his died when he tried to debunk and even Dr Matheson was unsuccessful in the past. She warns Tom that he is too big and dangerous to bring down and asks him to leave Simon well alone. Tom  decides to pursue it on his own and with the help of a colleague and his girlfriend Sally Owen (played by Elizabeth Olsen) he decides to pursue it.

Strange things start happening to him, noises, things flying out, his room ransacked when no one could have absolutely entered his room – and he is undeterred. When Simon agrees to a scientific experiment where he is wired up by scientists and performs a miracle of guessing what another person in a far away room has chosen from a set of switches (numbered) correctly, he knows there has to be  a twist and obsessively watches the footage until he figures out how he does it.

Therein lies the first twist of the movie. Then, he goes out to a meeting of Simon to expose him and therein lies the second twist of the movie, that, in a style similar to the movies mentioned above, makes you look at the whole movie in a different light.

Not as good as some of the movies mentioned above but still, not bad at all. The movie is enjoyable, despite moments of puzzlement and somewhat disjointed narration at a couple of places.

What jars is seeing Cillian Murphy paired with Elizabeth Olsen. She looks so young that it looks like he is interested in underage girls and that feels weird at first.

While on the subject of Elizabeth, this role gives very little scope to the talented actress who showed off what she is capable of doing in movies like The Silent House.

Credible performances from everyone, good narration, good presentation with a couple of exceptions. I would say it deserves a 7/10

— Krishna


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