While you can admire Rodriguez’s effort, Hypnotic‘s stagnant first two acts are a cheap card trick to get to the magical rabbit he wants to pull out of his hat.
We review the 2023 film Hypnotic, which does not contain spoilers.
I remember listening to Conan O’Brien’s podcast; he made a point about superhero movies that has stuck with me. I’ll paraphrase, but he made a joke about when they find themselves in a corner, the creators will magically open up a portal to help fix the issue of lazy writing.
Hypnotic is a film that gorges itself into a trope-filled mess but admirably falls short of climbing out of the hole the writers dug for themselves.
Hypnotic (2023) Review and Plot Summary
The story follows a police detective Daniel Rourke (Ben Affleck), the type of cop who acts impulsively and asks questions later. He’s been in a dark place for a while now because his daughter Minnie (Man with a Plan’s Hala Finley) was kidnapped three years ago and never found.
Daniel and his partner Nicks (The Terminal List’s JD Pardo) receive a tip that a specific bank’s safe deposit box will be robbed today.
At the bank, a mysterious man named Dellrayne (William Fichtner) begins to control the actions of security guards, bank employees, and civilians. Rourke takes matters into his own hands, racing into the bank to retrieve the content of the safe deposit box. The box contains a picture of his missing daughter with the words “Find Lev Dellrayne” written on it.
Reportedly, Hypnotic has been a passion project for Robert Rodriguez since 2003, when he came up with the idea for the story. Rodriguez wrote the script with Godzilla franchise scribe Max Borenstein.
However, instead of merely paying tribute, their film steals from multiple blockbusters that preceded it.
There are touches of Christopher Nolan’s Inception and even The Matrix trilogy, as Rourke’s “hypnotic” partner in crime, Diana (Alice Braga), explains how the great ones can alter their surroundings.
The film also features shades of lesser-known movies, such as The Darkest Minds, and even lesser successful films, like M. Night Shyamalan’s dud The Happening, and shades of The Truman Show make an appearance.
The result is a cluttered mess of genres and themes that clash and work against one another. The script uses a crutch of story “constructs” to do anything it damn well pleases without regard to prior events. This is where the opening paragraph comes in.
The writing has a consistent mishmash of genre cliches that can frustrate viewers, taking them out of the experience rather than immersing them in it. However, the film rebuilds credibility by its third act, which features a couple of significant reveals and a fun mid-credits scene that had me cracking a smile.
Affleck is in full movie star mode, brooding in every scene and using what’s left over of his Batman baritone rasp. I will give credit to veteran character actor William Fichtner, who was a bold choice to play the villain, reveling in the role and making for some entertaining scene segways.
Is the 2023 film Hypnotic Good or Bad?
Hypnotic is not a good movie. While the film regains some of its promised potential, it struggles to overcome its bad-good aftertaste. Unfortunately, Hypnotic runs out of time even though the film does improve as scenes play out in the third act.
While you can admire Rodriguez’s effort, the stagnant first two-thirds are a cheap card trick to get to the magical rabbit he wants to pull out of his hat.
Is Hypnotic worth watching?
Hypnotic is not worth watching at movie theatre prices. Nor is it worth seeking on what I guess is a quick turnaround to video-on-demand. The script feels like it was written from the point of the reveal, only to have a stagnant first seventy minutes do Hypnotic no favors.
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