"Hypnotic has its moments of genuine ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ entertainment but it suffers from a lack of coherence."
BY JACK RANSOM MAY 30, 2023
The 19th film from cult, indie and blockbuster directorial stalwart Robert Rodriguez. Hypnotic sees a detective (Ben Affleck) investigates a mystery involving his missing daughter and a secret government program.
What’s this? An original premise sci-fi, crime, mystery from the director Sin City, Planet Terror, Alita: Battle Angel and many more, starring Ben Affleck (of whom has not promoted this at all), which is not only attempting to achieve Christopher Nolan levels of ambition on a fraction of the budget, but only in just over 90 minutes. Sounds like cinema to me!
In all seriousness Hypnotic is a genuinely baffling, utterly convoluted, consistently messy and poorly put together affair that ranges from downright hysterical to utterly mundane in its plot presentation. The plot being, well, honestly I’m not quite sure. Nothing is ever fully explained (despite how exposition heavy a lot of the dialogue can be), the editing renders scenes cryptic and disjointed with little flow or cohesion throughout the duration. However what I can say for certain is I had a ball with the filmmakers’ decision to thrown in a laughable twist every 10 minutes, and I can’t deny that the overall ‘big reveal’ did arrive unexpectedly.
Those previously mentioned three (I still have yet to see his Mexico Trilogy) films helmed by Rodriguez absolutely ooze recognisable stylistic tendencies and absolutely kick ass from a visual perspective. This, this however does not. Hypnotic honestly doesn’t feel like it his him behind the camera. The editing for the hand to hand brawls is atrocious, the film frequently teeters into DTV territory in its shooting style and the concrete colour palette feels a decade or so out of date. Also the attempts at Inception & Doctor Strange-esque reality warping effects are a sight to behold. Essentially the filmmakers added the ‘funhouse mirror’ filter said that’ll do.
Affleck radiates not particularly wanting to be there. He is clearly on autopilot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at least some part of him enjoyed spouting the myriad of goofy hypno-centric lines and being consistently bewildered by everything around him. Alice Braga serves only as an expository machine and William Fichtner’s overall presence and hammy line delivery treads the line between terrible and amazing, with him seemingly teleporting into frame when the script requires it.
Hypnotic has its moments of genuine ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ entertainment - a few of the twists had me cracking up - but it suffers from a lack of coherence from a screenplay perspective, bafflingly shoddy editing and stylistic decisions from Rodriguez and co. Flickers of the goofy 90/00’s throwback I wanted were there, but they can’t outweigh the dull confusion of the majority of the runtime.