Starring: Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro & Elizabeth Olsen
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
Red Lights has proven to be a very divisive film with renowned and respected critics such as Richard Roeper labeling it one of the worst films he has seen in years. Currently sporting a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, Cortes has once again delivered an incredibly underrated film. Red Lights is far from perfect, it is at times very silly, has a plot that stretches credibility and a twist that on a second viewing may make the film better, yet also make it worse. However the film is shepherded by assured and stylish direction, solid performances and an incredibly intriguing, engaging and unpredictable plot.
The leading roles in this film are populated by some of my favourite actors working today. Cillian Murphy is great in the leading role and it is refreshing and hopefully a sign of things to come to see him in a leading rather than supporting role. Sigourney Weaver gives a typical modern Sigourney Weaver performance and I was both surprised and disappointed (For right and wrong reasons) to find that she was not in the film as much as most would expect. De Niro plays the pantomime villain of the piece and whilst a great actor, it is not a great part. De Niro is doing this sort of stuff in his sleep, however De Niro on autopilot is arguably better than most actors in their stratosphere. Elizabeth Olsen is also somebody who deserves more screen time in her love interest role, one that like all love subplots this year feels rushed, underdeveloped and primarily a device to get the plot out of sticky situations.
However these four performances keep you engaged and interested in these characters and this story. It would be interesting to see just how strong the story and dialogue of Cortes would have stood up, had it been delivered by actors of much less skill and competence. While Murphy has a full arc to play with and much of the screen time, the script doesn’t do nearly as much with the De Niro, Weaver and Olsen characters as it could and should. Aside from some underdeveloped characters and as a result missed opportunities, the film is at times very silly. Some may be scared at some of the film’s attempts at horror, whilst others may laugh. As a whole I found the film’s jump scares and moments of tension to be well executed however I can understand somebody having the completely opposite response if watched under different conditions.
However the two silliest and most distracting aspects rest in a young Robert De Niro and a bathroom fight scene. The young Robert De Niro is something that should have hit the cutting room floor, it is such a bad and obvious impression of De Niro that it is laughable, distracting and takes you out of the film. Additionally a fight scene in a bathroom late into the movie stretches credibility more than any of the paranormal activity does.
The film however must be commended for one of the most effective twists in recent years. The twist at the end of this film genuinely surprised me and given the obvious nature of many twists this year it was a refreshing surprise to be that surprised. Whether the twist actually stands up on repeat viewings remains to be seen, however should the film’s logic collapse upon itself I would still commend for being able to surprise me so late in the game. However there is a twist prior to the twist that denoted laughter from me at the fact that characters were actually surprised that what they had discovered was the case.
Red Lights is full of great ideas, some of which are really well explored, some of which are hinted at and some of which are completely ignored or unrealized. It’s a film that moves along at a quick pace, builds up an engaging mystery, and has interesting and likable characters that are portrayed by incredibly efficient actors. Cortes includes some stylistic flourishes to his direction and through his script and direction constantly keeps you on your toes. The film may be silly, it may have plot holes, it may have its laughable moments as a result, the twist could potentially not work upon further inspection and/or simply annoy people and it could have done more with its characters. However the film is so engaging, well acted, ultimately surprising and simply fun that I consider myself a fan and given its low ratings across the board to date a supporter and an advocate. This is a film worth seeing for the performances, the ideas (both developed and underdeveloped) and the twist alone. Yes it has cheesy, stupid moments but this was a film that didn’t bore me for a second and kept me interested for its entire running time.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
Disagree with this review? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.