Starring: Ben Affleck, Alice Braga, JD Pardo, Dayo Okeniyi, Jeff Fahey, Jackie Earle Haley, and William Fichtner
Director: Robert Rodriguez
While there is an interesting idea and a decent twist at its (only 90-minute) core, everything about Hypnotic feels dated. Between the procedural-meets-slight-sci-fi angle that was huge in the early 2000s (remember Déjà Vu and Next?) to Ben Affleck’s surly, Max Payne-inspired line delivery, this movie might have been a hit during the actor’s Paycheck era. Still, I can’t say it’s boring, but it’s not particularly entertaining either since everything is so noirishly dark and dour. Mostly, I’m left wondering, 1. what happened to Robert Rodriguez, who used to be among my favorite directors?; and 2. why, in 2023, did Affleck sign on for this?
"Dated" doesn't even begin to describe how Hypnotic feels. It's the kind of movie you'd come across on TBS while channel-surfing in the late 90s (which makes sense as the script was written back in 2002). Not bad enough to be terrible, nor solid enough to be good, it just sits in mediocrity. The action, writing, and performances leave no lasting impression, and the fact that Ben Affleck spent time on this project is honestly perplexing. Hopefully, director Robert Rodriguez will stop wasting his time with films like this and turn his focus to the long delayed Alita: Battle Angel sequel instead.
Hypnotic has a lot of promise in its base elements and grounded roots, but it does eventually fall victim to biting off more than it can chew. Conceptually, it’s an interesting (if somewhat predictable) watch, but in its execution, the story becomes so convoluted and messy that the audience doesn’t really have anything concrete to hang onto by the film’s end, making it feel ultimately fruitless. Even with Alice Braga and William Fichtner doing what they can to elevate the material, neither can save the viewer from noticing Ben Affleck’s boredom with a script that doesn’t give him much actual depth.
One word I never thought I would connect with director Robert Rodriguez is “bland.” However, when it comes to his latest thriller, Hypnotic, even his stylized attempts at science-fiction can’t cover for the boring action, expositional conveniences, and… well… bland world-building. After about the 10th time Diana (Alice Braga) explained something to Danny (Ben Affleck) about the rules of Rodriguez’s super-powered world, I was checked out; Then, the line “What? I have powers all of a sudden?” was uttered and I couldn’t help but laugh incredulously at the rest of the film. Sorry, Rob, but this one ain’t it.
Hypnotic honestly feels like a Walmart-version of a Christopher Nolan film. While the concept of the movie is pretty cool, the imagery looks cheap and the script needs way more depth. The actors try their best to elevate it as much as possible, but the script leaves them all, especially Ben Affleck, with little to work with. The fact that Robert Rodriguez, a veteran director, made this is kind of mind-boggling because of how amateur it looks and feels. With all that said, Hypnotic is fast-paced and will keep viewers guessing throughout.