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Hypnotic Review

May 20, 2023 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Hypnotic Image Credit: Ketchup Entertainment/Relativity Media
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Hypnotic Review  

* Ben Affleck as Danny Rourke
* Alice Braga as Diana Cruz
* JD Pardo as Nicks
* Hala Finney as Minnie
* Dayo Okeniyi as River
* Jeff Fahey as Carl
* Jackie Earle Haley as Jeremiah
* William Fichtner as Dellrayne

Story: A detective investigates a mystery involving his missing daughter and a secret government program.

Robert Rodriguez is a very versatile director in that he never sticks to one genre for very long or even a style. The Faculty doesn’t look the same as Desperado, which doesn’t look the same as Spy Kids or Sin City and so on. He’s never really made a thriller before, certainly not something along the lines of his latest film, Hypnotic. This is project that he’s been working on, off and on, for twenty years. At the risk of sounding too negative, perhaps he should have spent some more time on it.

Hypnotic is the kind of sci-fi thriller that you can tell wants to be something bigger and smarter than what it ultimately is. In a lot of ways, it’s like Transcendence, a movie from 2014 with big aspirations. It stars an A-list actor sleepwalking through a thriller with a lot of pseudoscience and nonsensical plot turns that beat the audience into bleary-eyed submission. That may sound harsh, but this is a director and cast capable of much better. Instead, you get ninety minutes of what feels like Fringe fan fiction or a maybe a rejected X-Files script from season nine.

The movie is, at first, a police procedural about a cop searching for his missing daughter. In the process, he runs afoul of a man that can make people do what he wants at the slightest suggestion. But if you’re thinking to yourself, ‘that’s not how hypnosis works’, the movie has you covered and eventually explains it away as something similar to psychic abilities. Of course as soon as the viewer decides to roll with that as plausible in this world, it then hurls several other plot twists at you. It honestly might have been preferable if the film remained as it started: a cop going after a man with seemingly unstoppable abilities. Because where it goes when the plot kicks in is both parts nonsense and generic.

That’s not to say it’s all bad. Ben Affleck isn’t bad in it, even though he does seem checked out. Alica Braga tries her best to elevate the material, and we have a solid collection of character actors to round things out. It’s hard to get mad at a movie with William Fichtner as the bad guy, let alone one that gives paychecks to Jeff Fahey and Jackie Earle Haley. It’s almost because of that, and the fact this is from the normally dependable Rodriguez, that it ends up being a disappointment.

There are also several good moments, however brief, in which you get an idea of what this world could be. A movie focused entirely on literal mind games using modern technology to display that is great. But that’s not enough for Hypnotic, which throws in a conspiracy, a faceless secret organization and the fabled all-powerful being that the good guys want to protect and the bad guys want to control. This movie’s script was written in 2002 and it doesn’t feel like it was change much since then. This would have fit right along with other low-IQ sci-fi movies of the time like Timeline or Paycheck (which also starred Affleck).

And yes, this is a very low-IQ movie with aspirations of being clever. It’s admirable in that way, because it intends to keep the audience on its toes. Instead, you will guess a majority of the twists before they happen. While they come out of left field as part of the film’s established world, they are as by-the-numbers as twists get for this type of movie.

All in all, Hypnotic has all the entertainment value of someone swinging a watch in front of your face and telling you that you’re getting sleepy. There’s a bit of amusement here and there and one or two solid performances, but everyone involved is capable of much better. When I snap my fingers, Hollywood will wake up and have no memory this movie existed.

The final score: review Bad
The 411
Hypnotic gets increasingly brainless with each plot twist. The plot moves from point to point to its climax, which is somehow both predictable and nonsensical. It's not actively bad, but you'll likely be shaking your head and laughing as it tries very hard to pull one over on you.

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Hypnotic, Joseph Lee