Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Premise: A police detective (Ben Affleck) investigates a hypnotist (William Fichtner) at the center of a string of bank robberies and discovers that this man might have knowledge of the detective’s missing daughter.
What Works: Hypnotic opens pretty well. The film introduces detective Danny Rourke, played by Ben Affleck, a troubled man whose daughter was abducted in broad daylight. It’s a compelling start for the character and the opening therapy scene conveys the anguish and anger of a grieving father.
What Doesn’t: Unfortunately, after that promising opening things go downhill very quickly. Hypnotic is a disaster. The film is incompetent even in terms of basic filmmaking. It’s an ugly looking movie. The lighting is awful. It’s as if every shot was siphoned through an Instagram filter that’s supposed to make the movie look gritty and just makes it look cheap instead. The action sequences aren’t done very well. There’s not much visual excitement to any of the set pieces. Everything is flat and uninteresting. In the era of John Wick and movies like it, this just isn’t competitive with the rest of the action movie marketplace. The performances also lack energy. The film has a good cast including Ben Affleck, William Fichtner, and Alice Braga but they are given lousy dialogue that’s heavy on exposition. The actors seem to know exactly what kind of movie they are in and it shows in their performances. But it’s the nonsensical plot that really sinks Hypnotic. The movie begins as the story of a father who has lost his daughter and then it becomes about bank robberies committed by a hypnotist. The filmmakers don’t know or don’t care about what hypnotism actually is and William Fichtner’s character is not so much a hypnotist as he is a psychic who can turn people into zombies by whispering in their ear. If it stopped there, Hypnotic might work as a silly thriller of a troubled detective combating a supernatural terrorist but the moviemakers manage to make this film even dumber by throwing in a major twist halfway through that transforms Hypnotic to resemble Total Recall but it is not nearly as fun or imaginative. This is the kind of plot twist that upends the whole movie because it tosses aside anything viewers had any emotional investment in (which in this case is very little). This is an example of filmmakers trying to outsmart the audience and making something really stupid instead.
Bottom Line: Hypnotic is reminiscent of a straight-to-disc thriller from a two decades ago. It wastes a good cast on a movie that is terrible in virtually every way. Hypnotic does not engage interest while being laughably dumb.
Episode: #949 (May 21, 2023)