Call them professional skeptics: well-known academic ghostbuster Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her very focused assistant Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) travel around to alleged instances of paranormal activity, the better to debunk such hugger-mugger. A rather large challenge arrives in the form of a long-retired psychic, one Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a legendary (and quite blind) reader of minds and bender of spoons. This showdown between the forces of rationality and the specter of X-Files
-level phenomena gets off to a promising start, as writer-director Rodrigo Cortés stages a few nifty sequences of the debunkers at work. Also nice to see the perpetually haunted Murphy in a lead role, and Weaver's pretty commanding without doing anything fussy. It's therefore a shame that logic flies out the window at a certain point in the storyline (this is a movie with far too many "In that case, why didn't they just do this…" moments), and that the overall approach becomes pointlessly frantic. Cortés did rather nicely with the restrictions of his 2010 feature Buried
, which was set entirely in a coffin, but the larger playing field seems to be a greater challenge--and the ending seems a little overdesigned to foment a thousand online arguments. Final sin: wasting Elizabeth Olsen in a completely decorative role. --Robert Horton
Two investigators of paranormal hoaxes, the veteran Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her young assistant, Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), study the most varied metaphysical phenomena with the aim of proving their fraudulent origin.
Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), a legendary blind psychic, reappears after an enigmatic absence of 30 years to become the greatest international challenge for both orthodox science and professional skeptics.
Tom quickly begins to develop an obsession with Silver, whose magnetism becomes stronger with each new manifestation of inexplicable events. As Tom gets closer to Silver, tension mounts, and his worldview is threatened to its core.