Star Rating:


Director: Robert Rodriguez

Actors: Ben Affleck, Alice Braga, JD Pardo

Release Date: Friday 26th May 2023

Genre(s): Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Running time: 93 minutes

You might look at something like 'Hypnotic' and think, "Ah, finally, an original genre movie with a recognisable actor that doesn't appear to be a remake." Even on the criteria that it's original, 'Hypnotic' is still an absolute dud. To begin with, the plot above covers the first twenty or so minutes of 'Hypnotic'. From there, it's a series of just horrendously executed rug-pulls and red herrings, all of them so bafflingly silly and stupid that it doesn't even have the good sense to be aware of itself. No, 'Hypnotic' thinks it's fooling you, and considering how hypnotism works on a scale of suggestibility, you have to be pretty high up it in order for this to pass as a good movie.

Robert Rodriguez's career to date has been an odd one to chart. 'Alita: Battle Angel' was a passion project of James Cameron's that Rodriguez somehow got roped into direct, and the results were relatively OK. For some reason, it's developed a feral online cult following who will no doubt seek out this review and bombard it with negative feedback for daring to suggest 'Alita: Battle Angel' was anything other than a masterpiece. In truth, Rodriguez's last movie that was worth anyone's time was probably either 'Sin City' or 'Planet Terror'. Since then, he's cranked out sequel after sequel to 'Spy Kids' and been associated with never-made remakes like 'Escape From New York', 'Barbarella', and 'Red Sonja'.

For a director that's been so visually astute in the past and so keenly aware of the power of editing, music, and pacing, 'Hypnotic' has absolutely none of these in supply. If you're going to take a dumb concept like hypnosis, and write a script that's about as inventive as the twist ending of a soap opera plot arc from the '80s, the least you can do is make it pretty to look at and have some kind of craft about it. Brian De Palma understood this when he made the likes of 'Obsession', 'Dressed To Kill', or 'Raising Cain'. David Fincher, likewise, grasped the relevance of craft when he made 'Panic Room', 'The Game', and 'Gone Girl'. Robert Rodriguez either didn't care enough to put time and effort into making this look good, or thought what he made looked good. Either way, it doesn't. It looks cheap, sloppy, and rushed.

As for Ben Affleck, he's on the verge of smell-the-fart acting in this and probably blasting his scenes down in one take, having signed on for this more to take part in a leading vehicle that wasn't a comic-book movie. William Fichtner - a gifted actor with the right material - is reduced to glaring down the lens to try and emote a sense of menace. Alice Braga cranks out the turgid exposition dialogue like it's physically paining her, and you've got good, solid character actors like Jeff Fahey and Jackie Earle Haley just boiling the pot in this with nothing else to do.

At a time when studios are remaking the same movie every ten years or so, or the biggest movies are sequels or prequels, an original movie is a rare and precious thing and should be treated with a kind of care that it didn't always get. After all, studios are now so risk-averse and so desperate for things not to fail that the idea of a *gasp* an original concept just fills them with terror. To get something original into cinemas with a big-name star in the lead takes real effort, because the safe and easier option is to do a sequel, a prequel, or a remake of something people already know. At the same time, sometimes, there are just crap movies that deserve to be flushed down the toilet.

This is one of them.