FILM REVIEW — “Hypnotic” fails to hypnotize.
Published 12:02 am Friday, May 12, 2023
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Starring Ben Affleck, Alice Braga, William Fichtner, JD Pardo and Jeff Fahey
I’m not sure what’s going on with Ben Affleck’s career lately.
One moment he is making interesting films, like “The Tender Bar” or “Air.” The next thing you know, he’s starring in schlocky B-Movies like last year’s “Deep Water” or the mind-bending-but-messy thriller, “Hypnotic,” which arrives in theaters this weekend.
“Hypnotic” is a movie with a trippy premise and decent production values, but also uneven acting and a story that frequently makes no sense whatsoever. It’s as if the filmmakers were so interested in giving the story some unforeseen twists that they didn’t have time to write out all the details that would make the surprise seem plausible.
It’s very frustrating. Just when you think “Hypnotic” is going to start being something interesting, the cinematic house of cards collapses, leaving little other than the disappointing rubble of a mediocre thriller.
The story, the parts that I can reveal without giving away any spoilers, follows a detective (Affleck) who is traumatized by the unsolved kidnapping of his young daughter.
He’s trying to piece his life back together when he’s called in for a stakeout at a bank.
We learn that a mystery man (William Fichtner) has targeted a safe deposit box. This is more than just a standard bank heist as he has the supernatural ability to make people do whatever he wants by simply whispering suggestions into their ears.
Despite all of this, our detective hero is able to get to the safe deposit box first, but when he opens it, he finds that all it contains is a picture of his missing daughter. Is this magical bad guy somehow behind his daughter’s abduction?
That is a set up that should pique anyone’s interest, but that intrigue is lost when the story pivots into some science-fantasy mumbo jumbo that tries to create a world driven by kooky conspiracies and all-powerful bad guys.
What’s worse, this new setting allows the characters to behave without any real consequences. I didn’t buy the stakes for these characters, and so I stopped caring about whether the detective would find his daughter or not.
I do think Affleck is pretty good in the leading role, although he’s not asked to do much more than glower and flash his cheekbones at the camera.
Co-star Alice Braga also has some nice moments, and bad guy William Fichtner is as inscrutable as ever, which almost works in this particular instance. The rest of the cast is completely forgettable.
There are some nice moments of suspense, including one scene where the detective is trying to resist the hypnotic command to kill somebody, and finding that his body seems to have developed a mind of its own. It’s a nice moment in an otherwise forgettable film.
The screenwriting is very hit-and-miss, and it’s filled with so many plot holes that it becomes impossible to enjoy the ride.
This is a movie that wants to be a low-budget knockoff of “Inception,” but it doesn’t have the budget for the production values or the writing talent to create a cohesive story.
There is a kernel of an interesting idea here, but it’s quickly forgotten in this frustrating thriller that aims high, but then falls flat on its face in the execution.
Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Port Arthur Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at email@example.com.