Red Lights (2012) – Do You Believe in Psychic?

There are two kinds of people out there with a special gift. The one who really think they have some kind of power. And the other guys, who think we can’t figure them out. They’re both wrong.

Margaret Matheson

As I always said in many post here, despite the fact that I love Cillian Murphy more than any actors on earth…but his movies are not always to my liking. Fortunately, he still acts brilliantly in those movies I don’t really like.

Opening a review by saying that not all his movies are to my liking kinda give you an impression that I don’t like Red Lights, right? Well…for me, Red Light is a good movie but the story not strong enough. The twist is also not gripping enough. Compared to Cillian’s previous independent psychological thriller, Retreat, Red Lights still needs a lot of things to be upgraded…especially in the writing department. Despite it all, I still have higher respect toward Cillian’s independent movies than his failed blockbuster movies.

At the beginning, Red Lights focused more on Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) who had spent 30 years of her life trying to prove that supernatural and psychic power never exist. She was helped by a young physicist named Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy). Buckley could have better career but for some reasons he decided to be with Margaret. Margaret, assisted by Tom, taught in a university which happened to have another contradictive department, they tried to prove that psychic power does exist.

We got to see how Margaret and Tom revealed the fraud claiming psychic at the beginning of the movie. Things got serious when Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a blind psychic who had retired for long, decided to come back to society and shared his power to those who needed his power. Tom was obsessed with Silver and wanted to investigate him. Margaret opposed him by saying she had done that before and told him that Silver is dangerous. Tom insisted and did his own investigation. He found Margaret struggling with heart attack when he got back from his investigation. Her death made him even more obsessed with Silver.

I can’t say more than that because it would be a MAJOR spoiler.

In the first half, we got to see more of Sigourney and De Niro, Cillian was somewhat overshadowed by them (I don’t mind at all because I love those two old actor/actress…especially Sigourney who had remained as one of my favorite actresses for years). Cillian stepped up to the spotlight when he started being obsessed with Silver. Funny thing is (I don’t know how many people realized this…maybe even Cortés didn’t realize it as he didn’t take another shot of that scene), Cillian lost his American accent and used his own accent for just a bit when he was shouting at Sigourney. Somehow, I found that amusing. Does anyone else who had seen it noticed that?

I have read that Elizabeth Olsen was great in Martha Marcy May (I need to see this one day) but she was just okay in Red Lights. The problem didn’t lie on her, it’s more on the fact that her character is not challenging enough. She played one of Margaret’s students who fell in love and dated Tom Buckley despite their age gap.

Out of all 5 center characters, Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Toby Jones and Elizabeth Olsen…I mostly enjoy Cillian and Sigourney’s performance. I like the pairing of those two. I also like Toby Jones’s performance.

Story wise, as I have said above, it needs more strength. Something I can’t quite explain made the story so weak. The main idea is interesting, I would still see the movie even if the actor is not Cillian because I like this kind of movie, but it need something to make it more gripping. I can’t point out which specific part is wrong or weak, simply said it’s not something I will remember years afterward. Cortés was trying to create an ending that would awe people with its twist…but to be honest, it didn’t awe me at all. I was left feeling “oh…so that’s it?” When I watched Retreat, the ending awed me and made me stunned for few minute trying to cope with the fact it came so unexpected…Red Lights failed to deliver such awe to me. But…overall, I still like it.

Here is what Cillian Murphy said about when choosing Red Lights and other projects as well (Chicago Tribune)

“When you come across something that is original and interesting, you’ve got to go after it,” he said, “When you look at the script, if you think you can do it, then it’s not worth it. If it is something ‘(Expletive), this is going to be hard. Am I right for this? Should I? That’s the one you should jump at”

Movie Details:

Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Writter : Rodrigo Cortés
Starring : Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Olsen, Toby Jones
Released Date: 14 September 2012 (Jakarta)

Cillian Murphy Special

I have a feeling that Cillian and Cortés will work together again in the future as the two looks so close together.

Red Lights has the elements of Mystery, Suspense, Thriller and Supernatural, therefore I shared this review as part of my Peril on the Screen, R.I.P VII Challenge. Review Site is here.

More of Cillian Murphy’s posts can be found in Monthly Murphy.


  1. I haven’t heard of this movie before. With Weaver and De Niro supporting Cillian Murphy, I can’t imagine it being a bad movie. Too bad it did not live up to your expectations!

    1. The actors were great…the problem lies in the storyline or plot. Cortes did well with buried but failed in Red Lights.

      To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything…this kind of movie never can be guessed, lucky it’s still mediocre rather than bad. I still can see it again (unlike In Time) and Cillian is still as cute as always 😉

  2. oh, yang suaranya jadi agak serek itu aksen ya, mbak? kukira dia sakit tenggorokan! lol ;p
    setuju! kurang greget filmnya~ tapi om nya cakep! ;D

    1. Bukan pas serek…ada deh di awal2 dia suaranya meninggi ke Sigourney…ketara banget accent aslinya keluar. Sayang ga ada di youtube jadi ga bisa nunjukkin.

      Iya kan…kurang gereget. Wah kalo soal gantengnya mah ga usah dipertanyakan lagi 😉 gw aja smp nntn 2 kali demi memandangi wajahnya yang luar biasa itu.

        1. Not automatically…but most Asians still believe with the existance of psychic power and other supernatural things. The truth is I believe in the existence of ghost more than psychic power such telekinetic…in other word, the kind of psychic power I believe exist is different with the one in this movie.

    1. Don’t believe all the reviews you read 😉
      Sometimes you have to go with your hunch…I did that all the time. I read reviews but my hunch is the one I always follow 😉

        1. I read review from fellow bloggers, but never from those professional reviewers like Rotten Tomatoes, my reason is because I usually don’t have same rating as those professional reviewers.
          And trailers also play big part.

          1. I have one comment from you in my spam folder, but not for this post.
            I often have problem too with WP if I dont sign it…that’s why I always sign in first.

          2. Now I can’t remember what I was nattering on about, *headdesk* Guess it doesn’t matter.

            I was signed in already, but because of the weird way I have both a blog and a self hosted wordpress, now and then wordpress glitches out on me. Just my luck it would happen when on a long comment.

          3. I thought the self hosted wordpress has no problem with the new comment form…I guess I was wrong. I like the old way better.

            I often got comment problem when using mobile…my comment often missing 😦

            sorry you have to go through this troublesome comment problem in my blog.

  3. Wow, that is a major cast list and I’ve not heard of this one at all. I know I don’t keep up as much with current films as I used to but didn’t realize I was *that* out of touch, lol! I haven’t seen Murphy in much but I’ve enjoyed him in the films I have seen him in. Definitely a talented actor.

    1. Don’t be disheartened Carl 🙂
      The movie is an independent movie…so, no surprise if not many people heard of it.

      Cillian is a very underrated actor, in my opinion. Glad to know you like what you’ve seen of him.

  4. I’m glad I didn’t pay to see this in the theater, but it sounds like a good movie to watch on DVD. I find that a lot of thrillers don’t pack enough punch lately. I’ll have to see if I can detect Cillian slipping with his accent.

    1. To be honest, if there isn’t Cillian…I would have watched this in DVD too…he made me watched it twice in cinema 😉
      The DVD will be released on Oct 2. I hope it will be released here too because I want to buy it too.
      Yup…I agree with you!! It’s hard finding a thriller than have full packet of thrill.

      I hope you can spot the slipping part too so that I know I am not only imagining it. I noticed it straight away it the first time I saw it and confirmed it on the second time. It was just for a moment but very clear.

  5. I does sound so promising, too bad, they somehow messed it up. Cillian shoting in his native accent, boy that’s hilarious. I’ll have to pay attention when I watch it as I still would like to see it.

    1. Yeah…I still wish Cortes had written a better story. Great idea but need something more.
      Maybe, at some point it’s difficult to maintain his fake US accent when he is shouting 😉 When I first heard it I was like “hey…that’s your real accent!!”…I guess I have watched his movie a little TOO much to notice such glitch.

  6. I do think some people have the sixth sense and that could mean being psychic, but that said I don’t really like watching movies involving those, just like I don’t generally like movies about evil spirits/demons. So I’m not sure I’ll watch this Nov, I’m more excited about Cillian’s other projects, especially At Swim Two Birds by Brendan Gleeson, hopefully that gets greenlit soon!

    1. Ow no, Ruth!! it’s not that kind of Psychic!!
      It’s the western kind of psychic, it’s a psychological thriller not ghost story. I think you might like it. it’s not a great movie but still fun to watch.

      I am still waiting for that movie too. Independent movie really hard to get started 😦

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