Written and directed by Rodrigo Cortes (who previously stepped behind the camera to helm the excellent Buried), Red Lights may not be quite as clever as it thinks it is, but that doesn't stop it from being a fine slice of entertainment while it's on.
Cillian Murphy plays Tom Buckley, a loyal assistant to Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver). The two of them work, predominantly, on debunking paranormal activity. They also teach students about the many tricks of the trade, from table lifting to psychic readings and more. The only big name in psychic phenomena who seems to be "the real thing" is Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a major celebrity who announces his comeback after many years out of the limelight. Buckley starts to get frustrated when Matheson refuses to pursue Silver more aggressively, but the latter warns her assistant that chasing a man who has kept his hands clean for so long could prove to be more dangerous than it's worth. But Buckley can't let it go, he knows that Silver is faking it and just needs to figure out how the scheme works.
Anyone who has read Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks, and/or anything by Derren Brown (such as this fine work), should know where Red Lights is going. Thankfully, that doesn't make the journey any less enjoyable.
Cortes does a more than competent job in the scripting and directing department, but he's also helped enormously by the great cast. This isn't a sprawling ensemble picture, but to have Murphy, Weaver and De Niro in lead roles is a major plus, especially when the latter star is coaxed into giving one of his better performances in recent years. Toby Jones and Joely Richardson both do fantastic work in their smaller roles, and Elizabeth Olsen is just fine, although a little bit redundant (she is, essentially, just there to allow the audience to receive information).
Always interesting and entertaining, Red Lights may stumble in the last 10-15 minutes, but it does so with such gusto that it kind of gets away with its trickery. The fact that it maintains its own movie-world logic is also a major factor in sugar-coating the pill that the third act delivers.
I enjoyed this movie, as you can tell, but as I wrote this review I realised that I was growing to like it more and more. It's one that I look forward to purchasing and revisiting in the near future. I recommend giving it a go.