The first half of Red Lights is a satisfying and engaging thriller which is well cast and has an intriguing premise. The editing and in particular the sound editing keeps the audience on their toes while the presence of Weaver’s Matheson allows for the logical brain to remain calm and enjoyably look for the tricks being played. There is a lifting-a-table trick which will be tried by anyone seeing this film. Cillian Murphy’s Tom is the softer heart to Weaver’s jaded experience and his emotional range keeps one guessing during the turmoil that Silver’s re-introduction creates. Cast before her 2011 Martha Marcy May Marlene breakout performance, Elizabeth Olsen brings far more gravitas to the student-girlfriend role than one might expect. Playing Silver’s agent Monica Joely Richardson adds to the sense of threat that Robert De Niro infuses into Silver, making one hopeful that we might have a script worthy of De Niro’s track record. Toby Jones is the diminutive but far better funded colleague of Matheson who shares one of the stand-out scenes with Weaver in terms of the ease with which illusions can be performed.
Though the film reiterates that all good illusions work when they are kept simple, unfortunately Cortés does not stick with this advice. Red Lights' second half implodes under the weight of its own overly elaborate attempts to maintain a thriller that had been working just fine. Olsen’s Sally is lost in the fray and there are entire scenes that have De Niro basically talking nonsense. Most will have figured out the secrets hidden in very plain sight in Red Lights within the first 10 minutes but if not, when the revelations do come it is after an overly long and cul-de-sac filled disappointing second half of this film letting down the story arcs of it’s principle characters. Red Lights has ample promise with a skilled cast and sequences that will make you jump. It has been billed as this year’s Sixth Sense which indicates a twist in the film but sadly not the same quality of storytelling.