Robert Rodriguez’s Hypnotic has an interesting premise but suffers from weak performances, editing, and a script that fails to resonate.
The concept of hypnosis is a powerful one. As we face a time where technology and even AI are steadily rising in power, our own control as free human beings comes into question. However, hypnosis doesn’t require a phone or a smart piece of computer code. All it requires is a person who’s powerful enough to make a suggestion. Robert Rodriguez’s Hypnotic is a conceptually interesting thriller but unfortunately suffers under its own ambitions.
Hypnotic follows Danny Rourke (Ben Affleck), a detective based in Austin, Texas. After his daughter disappears, Danny goes on a relentless mission to find her. However, the search leads him down a rabbit hole as he investigates a series of mind-bending bank robberies led by a dangerous hypnotic named Liv Del Rayne (William Fichtner). As he attempts to solve these crimes, he finds help from Diana Cruz (Alice Braga), a gifted psychic. As the two chase down Del Rayne, Rourke begins to discover answers about her daughter’s disappearance.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Hypnotic should seemingly set the stage for something small yet ambitious from the experienced director. Although the power of suggestion and hypnosis can be small in scale, there’s a chance to explore our own ideas of suggestion and just how deep it goes. However, where Hypnotic struggles most is where to go beyond its concept. From the outset, there’s a lingering feeling throughout the film that we’ve seen a lot of this before. Films such as Christopher Nolan’s Inception feel downright copied here but without any of the strong visuals, themes, or performances that made that film so great.
A core part of Hypnotic is Ben Affleck and Alice Braga‘s partnership as they track down a particularly dangerous criminal. Although we spend a lot of time with these, there’s an underlying sense of boredom throughout the film thanks to its incredibly bare bones script. Within every scene, we’re given dialogue that only seems set to serve the film’s uninteresting narrative which leaves the characters feeling incredibly hollow. This feels particularly egregious when it comes to the core search of the main character’s search for his daughter. We’re given almost no time to establish their relationship, which leads to a film where you’re ultimately not invested in what happens on screen.
By the time we reach the third act of Hypnotic, we’re left with a lot of payoff in a story that spent no time building up in any real satisfying way. With a runtime of over 90 minutes, the film simply moves too fast through its narrative and fails to capture any real emotion that’s required for the story it wants to tell. A story of a father’s search for his daughter and the devastating power of suggestion begins and ends as a derivative piece of filmmaking that can only be described as a disappointment.
While Robert Rodriguez’s Hypnotic has some potential, the film is unfortunately an uninspired mess. With weak visuals, performances and flat editing, it’s ultimately an unremarkable film that feels destined to be forgotten about by the viewer as soon as it ends. Although some of its concepts could lead down to potentially interesting avenues, what we’re left with is an uninteresting film unable to carry its own weight.
Hypnotic will be released in US theaters on May 12, 2023.