Hypnotic – We Were not Hypnotised by This Movie

MOVIE REVIEW – Robert Rodriguez’s latest film, The Hypnotic, is a psychological thriller in which Ben Affleck plays a traumatised detective on the trail of a dangerous hypnotist. The film tries to ride the influence of Inception and Memento, but unfortunately fails to surpass those predecessors. The Hypnotic is more of a bland Inception, with actors trying to look interesting with minimal acting.



Robert Rodriguez hasn’t been very vocal lately. The 2020 Netflix movie Everybody Can Be a Hero has been so bad that our minds were immediately blown away by what we saw. But the negative reviews haven’t stopped the director from getting to work on the new Spy Kids instalment, Spy Kids: Armageddon, which lands on Netflix this year. It’s safe to say that Rodriguez’s last worthwhile film was 2019’s Alita: Angel of War, which did pretty well both critically and in terms of numbers. The Hypnotic, however, is not one of them.



The labyrinth of memories


The film stars Danny Rourke (Ben Affleck), a police detective who sees a psychologist because he is unable to come to terms with the loss of his daughter. He can’t stop thinking about the horrible day when she was lost forever in a playground – later discovered to have been kidnapped. The perpetrator was caught, but she could remember nothing, including what happened to Rourke’s daughter. But a bank robbery immediately brings Rourke back to reality. A strange figure (William Fichtner) appears, who seems to be able to influence anyone just by talking to them. This guy can use hypnosis to turn people against each other, and can easily empty a bank without having to do anything strenuous. But the dangerous hypnotist is somehow connected to Rourke’s past and his missing daughter.

The basic idea of the film is not bad, but unfortunately it is not very original. Hypnosis as a theme has been on the screen many times before, most recently in the Oldboy remake and Awakenings. However, The Hypnotic does not exploit this device as cleverly and excitingly as those films. The hypnosis here seems more like a cheap trick the director uses to surprise the viewer, but without giving him enough explanation or logic. Hypnotism’s capabilities are neither clear nor consistent. Sometimes he needs only eye contact, a phone call, and sometimes a whole room. Sometimes it is just a sentence or two, sometimes, it is a long speech. Sometimes it only affects the mind; sometimes, it affects the body. The film does not answer why and how he can do this or what his limits are.



Film star and director legend: we’ve seen better


The other big problem with the film is Ben Affleck. The actor has already proved that he can give good performances, for example in Argo and Holtodiglan. But unfortunately, we have long forgotten those films, and we tend to think of him more in terms of recent scandals and failures. Affleck’s performance is not memorable here either, he’s rather boring and indifferent, but it’s funny how much he looks like Max Payne from Max Payne 2.

Similarity or not, Affleck’s character is not very interesting or sympathetic, just a clichéd detective with a tragic past and a mission. Affleck doesn’t give him any depth or emotion, he just stumbles through the film. The rest of the cast is not much better, William Fichtner as the hypnotist comes across as a rather clichéd villain, and Alice Braga as a fortune teller tries to help Rourke, but with little success.

Robert Rodriguez is not at his best in this film. The director has previously made exciting and entertaining films such as Desperado, Sin City and Alita: Angel of War. In these films he showed his flair for visuals, action and humour.

In the Hypnotic, however, none of this is visible. The film looks boring, the action sequences are weak and few, and the humour is lacking. Rodriguez fails to capture the viewer’s interest or suspense, telling a story that is sufficiently twisted but at the same time completely implausible.



It would fail to hypnotise you


Hypnotic is a disappointing film from Robert Rodriguez and Ben Affleck. It tries to look like a thriller that cleverly plays with the concept of hypnosis and the distortion of reality, but in reality it is a clichéd and typical early 2000s Christopher Nolan imitation that fails to surprise or engage the viewer. The film doesn’t exploit its basic idea, the twists are too convoluted and too implausible, it doesn’t give enough explanation or logic to hypnosis, and it doesn’t present any interesting or exciting characters or situations.

The actors don’t add anything to the film either, with Ben Affleck playing an expressionless, blank-faced detective struggling with psychological trauma and William Fichtner as a clichéd villain. The direction does occasionally use some relatively twisty and action-packed scenes, but they are neither spectacular nor dynamic enough, which is surprising for Robert Rodriguez, who also directed Desperos. The Hypnotic would have been a bog-standard Inception in a good way, but it’s worse than that.



Direction - 5.5
Actors - 5.8
Story - 6.2
Visuels/Action - 6.2
Ambience - 5.8



"Hypnotic" is the latest film from Robert Rodriguez, starring Ben Affleck as a traumatised detective on the trail of a dangerous hypnotist. Unfortunately, although the film follows in the footsteps of "Inception" and "Memento", it fails to go beyond these patterns, and its lead actor fails to bring his character convincingly to life. While the basic idea of the film looks promising, the execution is lacking: the hypnotist's abilities are inconsistent and character development is lacking. In the end, the film seems like an average thriller that does not exploit the theme of hypnosis and fails to reach the viewer.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines – including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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