Robert Rodriguez writes and directs Hypnotic, a neo-noir mystery about a detective who is investigating the disappearance of his daughter. It stars Ben Affleck (The Town), Alice Braga (I Am Legend), JD Pardo (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), Dayo Okeniyi (Rise), William Fichtner (Crash), and Jeff Fahey (Alita: Battle Angel).
In Hypnotic, Affleck plays Danny Rourke, a detective whose life gets turned upside down when his daughter, Minnie (played by Ionie Olivia Nieves), is abducted by a very confused kidnapper who doesn’t remember any of the events that transpired or where Minnie’s body is. Four years after her disappearance, Danny crosses paths with a couple of hypnotics named Diana (Braga) and Dellrayne (Fichtner) and he realizes that not everything is quite what it seems.
Hypnotic is action-packed from the start. It is surprisingly engaging, not letting go of the audience’s attention as soon as the lights dim in the theater. However, that excitement may not keep everyone’s interest. For those who like to hyper-analyze mysteries, the foundation of this film may start to waver around the 1/3rd mark.
The problem lies not in the premise, but the execution as it fails to not come across as gimmicky. This neo-noir film feels a bit like it wants to be in the same category and caliber as Inception and Memento. But while Hypnotic has the heart, it does not quite have the precision to execute such a complex plot in a seamless fashion. Certain details could have easily been smoothed over to help with the suspension of disbelief early on. Characters could have been deepened with a little more time, allowing viewers to care more about what is happening on the screen. Instead of leading audiences into a dream-like reverie with clever and well-written dialogue, it feels as though more emphasis is placed on Inception-like visual effects.
Star-driven films with unapologetic and outrageous situations were abundant in the 1990s. They aren’t as numerous these days, which may be why Hypnotic feels so nostalgic. Rodriguez does not focus on things like feasibility or in-depth characterization. He just wants to make an enjoyable movie, which is an endearing endeavor.
Ben Affleck does a great job in this role. In fact, the character of Danny Rourke looks tailor-made to fit Affleck’s gloomy yet handsome face and deadpan delivery. As he stares off into the distance with a gaze that shouts, “I’ve seen things,” he simultaneously looks like someone just knocked his ice cream cone out of his hands. Both Affleck and the ice cream (in the form of his missing daughter) pluck awkwardly at the audience’s heartstrings. It is a clumsy tune, but it does the trick.
Suspension of disbelief is necessary early on in the film when some viewers may question the small details purposefully laid out like breadcrumbs. “Follow this path!” Rodriguez screams. “I swear, it will lead somewhere. Trust me.” Moviegoers who love to go along for the ride will enjoy this exciting romp of a movie.
Is it deep and meaningful? No. Is it a little goofy? Yes. It probably will not change any lives, but it is a fun way to spend a couple of hours (and make sure to stay for an after-credits scene). However, if viewers are looking for a hypnosis movie with a little more substance try Danny Boyle’s 2013 sleeper hit, Trance.