21 June 2012 | dharmendrasingh
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.