Movie review: Hypnotic may leave you dazed and confused

Movie review: Hypnotic

Robert Rodriguez directs Ben Affleck in the role of a police detective searching for his lost daughter in this silly science-fiction story about mind control, and something missing.

Hypnotic

2.5/5

Starring: Ben Affleck, Alice Braga, William Fichtner

Directed by: Robert Rodriguez

Written by: Robert Rodrigues, Max Borenstein

Rating: Restricted

Running time: 1 hr 33 mins

Opens in theatres May 12, 2023

Now streaming on Prime

By Katherine Monk

It’s another movie that plays to the ambient paranoia of our post-COVID reality, but where some films of the moment feature a plausible apocalypse, Hypnotic abandons reality altogether. In fact, this new movie starring Ben Affleck and directed by Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids) is just silly.

Yeah. Silly. What else do you call a plot that proposes absolute mind control?

Pulling up halfway between Jedi mind tricks and Christian mythology, Hypnotic is built on the idea that a very small percentage of human beings have the ability to hypnotize others through mere suggestion. Those who have the power can use it like a magic spell, forcing enemies to surrender or even hallucinate about their surroundings. But in the beginning, at least, we’re just focused on Ben Affleck.

Much like Liam Neeson in a Missing movie, Affleck plays father to a daughter who has disappeared. We don’t know what happened. All we know is that Affleck is a cop who can’t let go of the past — forever seeking a clue that will reunite his fractured family.

Inevitably, he picks up the scent of his kidnapped daughter, and begins his feature-length rescue mission. Joining him for the ride is a mystery woman (Alice Braga) who seems to know quite a bit about him, as well as the missing daughter.

Perhaps you guessed it already, but the mystery woman is a powerful ‘hypnotic’ and she’s eager to find the girl, too, lest she be found by the evil G-man first. For Affleck, the girl is innocent family. For the G-Man, the girl is the psy-ops equivalent of an atomic bomb.

It’s a dramatic design we understand all too well, which means most of the film is spent fulfilling expectations without flourishes or finesse. We simply plod along, watching Affleck look convincingly confused, and waiting for the big scripted moment of discovery.

Any movie this silly needs a moment where we’re given a full, and roundly awkward, explanation of the implausible plot. The only problem with Hypnotics is the big reveal happens way after we’ve already stitched this threadbare scenario together.

It’s a dramatic design we understand all too well, which means most of the film is spent fulfilling expectations without flourishes or finesse. We simply plod along, watching Affleck look convincingly confused, and waiting for the big scripted moment of discovery.

I won’t play plot spoiler and tell you more about Affleck’s policeman character. I won’t even quote the big speech in which “hypnotics” are credited with godlike powers of salvation. All that stuff is undeniably silly.

What isn’t silly about this film is the overall mood and underlying threat matrix. Sidling up next to a crop of films created after the COVID pandemic, Hypnotics exploits our current moment of collective doubt.

Walking through the rubble of the once-monolithic mainstream media, and subjected to acts of serial mendacity, the Everyman has lost his reliable connection to the real world. Everything is subject to scrutiny, whether it’s a crime scene, or the memory of a loving marriage.

Hypnotics doesn’t do anything new with this wholesale crisis of confidence. It trips over its own loose ends and frequently falls dramatically flat, but it still captures the squealing doubt of our times, and rubs up against the cold, dead flesh of a once promising future.

 

@katherinemonk

THE EX-PRESS, May 12, 2023

-30-

Review: Hypnotic

User Rating

3 (2 Votes)

Summary

2.5Score

Hypnotics doesn’t do anything new with our wholesale, post-pandemic crisis of confidence. This movie directed by Robert Rodriguez and featuring Ben Affleck trips over its own loose ends and frequently falls dramatically flat, but it still captures the squealing doubt of our times, and rubs up against the cold, dead flesh of a once promising future. -- Katherine Monk

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