Tagline: Is Anybody There?
There’s probably a snappy mathematical term to describe the diminishing returns produced by once great actors after they start getting passed over for major roles. This week’s examples? Robert De Niro and Sigourney Weaver, who once upon a time only knew the term Red Lights if their drivers were taking them from one fancy party to another.
Instead, they’re stuck in Rodrigo Cortés‘ supernatural thriller, along with the likes of Cillian Murphy, Toby Jones, Elizabeth Olson and Joely Richardson. Cortés recently helmed the taut thriller Buried, in which Ryan Reynolds did some of his best acting stuck in a coffin in Iraq, so hopes are at least somewhat high that he can get as much if not more out of his distinguished cast. Weaver plays researcher Dr. Margaret Matheson who, along with partner Tom Buckley (Murphy) exposes fraudulent claims of paranormal activity by rooting out so-called “red lights”– the tricks and sleight of hand behind all the ghost whispering and faith healing. But they hadn’t reckoned on De Niro’s blind psychic, Simon Silver, coming out of retirement after 30 years to challenge them with his charm and mystical talents.
As with the paranormal world itself, Red Lights has its believers and its skeptics. In the positive camp, we find Empire, which goes as far as to state that Red Lights, “in its best moments, combines Hitchcockian intricacy with the cinematic sleight-of-hand of Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige” (although the magazine also admits that the film “more often feels like a shabby X-Files episode with 50 times the budget but a fraction of the wit”). The Guardian also pays the film a backhanded compliment, saying that “it’s the kind of semi-savvy pulp nonsense that’ll do if your first choice is sold out.” Far less kind is the Daily Telegraph: “This bottom-drawer hokum about debunkers of the alleged paranormal comes at us with a regrettably dim script and very uncertain style from gimmick-fond director Rodrigo Cortés.” But that’s a rave compared to Time Out London, which calls the film “as lame as a thrill ride and inane as a wannabe critique of rational enquiry” before concluding, The clue’s in the title: don’t go.”
NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: It’s come to something when we’re going with number four in a child-friendly franchise over anything starring Robert De Niro, but Red Lights is no Taxi Driver (even if Ice Age ain’t exactly the second coming of Toy Story).