Hypnotic Review: Interesting twists are failed by poor execution

Director Robert Rodriguez’s latest film, Hypnotic, shows plenty of potential to be a mind-bending thriller full of wild twists and turns, but is completely marred by severe shortcomings that ultimately make the film a thin, underwhelming mess.

The film follows Danny Rourke (Ben Affleck) – a detective who’s reeling from the disappearance of his daughter and finds himself ensnared into a bizarre case. After witnessing a bank robbery where a mysterious man (William Fichtner) hypnotized others to steal for him, Danny not only discovers a hidden world with gifted people known as Hypnotics, but also that this man might lead him to finding his daughter. With the help of another hypnotic named Diana (Alice Braga), Danny searches for the man and his daughter but ultimately makes some shocking revelations about his own connection to the secrets of the case.

Hypnotic’s story gets off to a rough start with both the generic detective story and lifeless performances on display. Danny’s pain surrounding his daughter’s disappearance feels so typical of the “haunted detective” character-type and he’s characterized in an overly familiar way. Affleck basically acts like he barely wants to be there, and he brings no real charm or care to his performance. That dismal attitude carries over into everyone else’s performances and adds to the dull tone of the film. Affleck’s performance as Danny essentially feels like he’s sleepwalking through the film, and it makes going through the entire experience a total bore.

Eventually, it’s hard not to feel like you’re just being dragged through this unimaginative, convoluted mystery largely because there’s nothing that invests viewers into nearly any aspect of the film. The lore surrounding hypnotics is incredibly thin and barely hits the basics of establishing their world. There definitely was potential for the hypnotics’ connections to government conspiracy and experiments to be further explored and create more intriguing lore. However, the film never lets its ideas go past just basic information, and it makes the characters it tries to introduce throughout come off half-baked and bland. Not to mention, the film’s use of hypnosis is dreadfully uninspired and really acts as a lazy plot device more than anything.

The action sequences, the few there are, barely utilize the hypnosis element well and it mostly feels like Hypnotic is borrowing visuals and ideas from similar films – namely Inception. The film’s use of hypnosis is mostly seen in standard dialogue interactions and it’s a really unremarkable way of showing the power of hypnosis. It would’ve been great to see realities really being altered and minds bent, but the budget and creative vision clearly aren’t there. It could’ve been really awesome to even just see the perspective of people being under the spell of hypnosis or dive deeper into its practices, but this film could care less and barely tries to do anything to stand out.

Frankly, it feels like the film is just rushing towards its twisty conclusions that could’ve been powerful and shocking but ultimately feel underwhelming. When the film starts to dish out the truth behind Danny’s connection to the hypnotics and his daughter’s disappearance, admittedly, there are some pretty rad twists. They’re the kind of twists that genuinely make you rethink everything you’ve seen from the start and effectively reignite intrigue because of how strong the turns are. Unfortunately, the film’s lack of depth struggles to make these twists work and they don’t leave the impact they should. Also, the narrative handholding waters things down badly and it feels like the film is desperately trying to impress – which it fails to do.

Hypnotic is a film that shows interesting potential it rarely lives up to or takes full advantage of. It purely feels like the minds behind it had a great concept for shocker finale twists and unsuccessfully attempted to build a narrative around it. Unfortunately, the intrigue of Hypnotic’s twists is failed by poor writing, stilted performances, and lackluster vision that ultimately make it a disappointing showing from everyone involved.

1.5

Watch the Trailer Here:

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