RED LIGHTS (R)

Red Lights (R)

 

Movie Info

Rating:

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones.

Writer-director: Rodrigo Cortés.

Producers: Rodrigo Cortés, Adrián Guerra.

A Millenium Entertainment release. Running time: 113 minutes. Vulgar language, violence, adult themes. In Miami-Dade only: Sunset Place.


rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

The title of Red Lights refers to the giveaways Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant (Cillian Murphy) look for when investigating instances of paranormal activity — mind-reading, telekinesis, spoon-bending, even magicians who claim to pull rabbits from hats. Played by Weaver with an intentional lack of humor and warmth, Dr. Matheson is one of those eggheads who likes to quote Occam’s razor while explaining away the seemingly impossible. Occasionally, she says things such as, “When I hear the drumming of hooves, I think horses, not unicorns.” Standing over the hospital bed of her son, who has been in a coma for years, she explains that she’s never been able to pull the plug on the machines keeping him alive because she’s an atheist and doesn’t believe in an afterlife. But she wants to, desperately.

Enter Simon Silver (Robert DeNiro), a blind psychic known for his ability to bend spoons on live TV — and for supposedly having caused the sudden death of a critic years earlier by stopping his heart with a thought. Simon is like the Tony Robbins of psychics — people pack concert halls to see him — and he’s come out of retirement with the intent to go on tour. This does not sit well with Dr. Matheson, who believes Silver is a con man.

Red Lights is the second film from writer-director Rodrigo Cortés, whose terrific 2010 debut Buried spent its entire running time trapped inside a coffin with Ryan Reynolds. The new movie is much more expansive and has lots of good actors (Elizabeth Olsen plays one of Matheson’s brightest students). Unfortunately, they all go to waste. Making a bad movie from a good script is easy: Red Lights proves making a good movie out of a bad screenplay is even harder. Despite the amount of talent Cortés has gathered in front and behind the camera (the film is shot exceptionally well by Xavi Giménez, who also shot The Machinist and Transsiberian), he can’t deflect your attention from the enormous silliness that permeates the entire picture.

This is ultimately a movie about highly intelligent people chasing after trivial pursuits. At least Mulder and Scully caught real monsters and killers. Weaver and Murphy are simply chasing frauds — they could have easily been IRS agents — which is a lot less exciting. Cortés tries to enliven the mood by amping up the violence (a fistfight in a bathroom is like something out of The Avengers) and suddenly killing off major characters to a curious lack of effect. Finally, with the sort of last-minute plot twist that sank M. Night Shyamalan’s career, Red Lights comes to an unexpected, risible end. Cortés is too good of a filmmaker not to learn from his sophomore slump. He’ll bounce back. Red Lights, though, can’t be forgotten quickly enough.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">What’s the secret?</span> Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites are a brother and sister trying to solve the mystery of a demonic mirror in ‘Oculus.’

    Oculus (R)

    Mirrors have been as much of a fixture in horror movies as knives and cats that suddenly jump from the shadows. But they’re best in cameos, as in the ending of Dressed to Kill or the bathroom scene in The Shining. Oculus revolves entirely around an ornate mirror that is, what, a gateway to hell? A summoning force for evil spirits? A really ugly piece of furniture from a medieval Pottery Barn?

  •  
Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman square off in a scene from ‘The Raid 2.’

    The Raid 2 (R)

    Every time you think The Raid 2 can’t possibly top itself, writer-director Gareth Evans goes “Oh, yeah? Watch this.” Most of 2011’s The Raid: Redemption took place inside a tenement raided by a SWAT team to apprehend a mobster and his squad of killers holed up inside. Practically no one survived the movie — the violence was astonishing — but the contained setting and the idea of having events grow hairier for the good guys the higher they went in the building gave the tight 101-minute movie a sense of compressed, relentless action. Now comes The Raid 2 (known as The Raid 2: Bernadal in its native Indonesia), which is far more expansive and complicated, and runs almost 2 ½ hours. Miraculously, the new picture makes the old one feel like Evans was just warming up.

  •  
A sexual addict (Charlotte Gainsbourg) visits a therapist (Jamie Bell) with unorthodox methods to try to help get over her compulsion in ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2’

    NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. 2 (unrated)

    Nymphomaniac Vol. 2 (unrated)

    Things get really kinky in Nymphomaniac Vol. 2, the second chapter in director Lars von Trier’ epic-length saga about a woman who can’t get enough. If you saw Vol. 1, which ended with our perpetually horny heroine Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) losing all feeling in her sexual organs, you might be wondering, “How could this movie outdo the first one?” To quote the great Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category