Robert De Niro has the time of his life as psychic Simon Silver in Red Lights starring alongside Cillian Murphy in Rodrigo Cortes' latest stunner.
As seen in the Red Lights poster, De Niro is a background figure in the story as a whole, but his presence is felt like an approaching storm. He portrays a man who has made millions as a blind psychic until tragedy forces him into retirement. Silver mysteriously returns to the spotlight as a team set to discredit him goes into full swing.
Led by Murphy and Sigourney Weaver, they are university professors attempting to use fact to explain the supposedly unexplainable.
This is one of those come-quickly movie reviews and it is solely due to the performance of Murphy. The Irish actor rips the scenery off the walls, even when he is going toe-to-toe with De Niro. He portrays Tom Buckley, a man who lost his parents to a group he vengefully calls "supernatural charlatans." It is easy to see his motivation as he is set on a collision course with De Niro's Silver.
And in the hands of Murphy, it is a performance that should put the actor on a whole new level -- especially after getting a vision of him in the MTV The Dark Knight Rises footage.
At certain points, the plot wanders. If it had stayed with the De Niro-Murphy tete-a-tete, the film would have been leagues better and more of what it should have been, instead of how it turned out. There are subplots that are never followed up on; the audience is just asked to forget those points, and it is honestly too difficult to ignore.
Yet, in the hands of director Cortes, Red Lights still rivets as a whole.
The title could not be more perfect and, in many ways, holds the key to the entire story. At the time it seemed like a throw-away line when it was uttered, but pay close attention to the use of "red lights" throughout the film and how it plays out as the drama takes unexpected twists and turns.
Although Murphy is the true star of the film and steals scenes from De Niro, don't misjudge that as us saying that De Niro is mailing this one in. Just the opposite, the actor relishes in a part that recalls his turn in Angel Heart in terms of losing himself in a role of supernatural power.
Red Lights is quite the original concept, that much is true. Its performances are top notch from its entire cast. Yet, the story's wandering way handicaps a good movie that could have been great.