Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver, Aliens 1986) and Dr. Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy 28 Days Later, Jim, 2002) are two academics who use both physics and psychology to debunk the myths of physic charlatans. Both a firm believers in controlled academic study and in Matheson’s case, despite over 30 years of investigation have never found a genuine physic. We see this skeptiscism stretch also to other departments on the University where they work. Dr. Paul Shackleton (Toby Jones, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Percy Alleline, 2011) is the head of the Scientific Paranormal Research Centre (SPRC) at the university and the constant butt of Matheson’s swipes. Such is her lack of respect for his work that when she is asked to view some work which is promising results she debunks the work in the corridor in front of more junior colleagues. Of course this is done objectively and once again seemingly validates her position.
A complication arises in the form of Simon Silver (Robert De Niro Killer Elite, Hunter, 2011), a famous physic who retired from public life 30 years ago following the fatal heart attack of a journalist critic at one of his shows. Now returning to public life, Silver comes to the team’s attention. Buckley is eager to go after him but Matheson is somewhat more reticent given the dealings she had with him all those years ago. As the discussion moves forward and events unfurl it seems possible Silver might just be the physic he claims to be, or is he?
Silver agrees to a bank of tests to be conducted by the University’s SPRC under Dr. Shakleton. There are still some questions and Buckley has two of his students look over the test footage. They may have found something. The movie builds to a climatic end where we learn more about our key characters, but not before a few twists. I could not help but compare this to a Hitchcock effort and in a number of places I found myself wondering how the maestro would have worked certain scenes better.
Cortés performed well with Buried (2010), but not quite as well here. He does however manage to convincingly portray damp northern US country even though his movie was shot largely in Spain. This is a solid B movie which while not damaging careers, will not do much to enhance them. This said, the saving grace for the movie was the delivery of the laed characters to deliver on what was required, despite possibly miscast. De Niro is possibly a waste in the role he plays, while Murphy is like a hound straining at the leash through most of the movie. Weaver is under-used also. There is also some interesting support work going on. Ben (Craig Roberts, Submarine, Oliver Tate, 2010) works well in his supporting role.
Overall this is a middle-of-the-road movie which mostly brings the audience along, even if we do have to ask ourselves once or twice where exactly it is going.
Rating 5/10, essentially a good old fashioned 3 star but could be close to 2 star only for the quality and work of the lead cast members.