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Hypnotic (15)

Cast: William Fichtner, Ben Affleck, JD Pardo, Alice Braga
Genre: Thriller
Author(s): Max Borenstein, Robert Rodriguez
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Release Date: 26/05/2023
Running Time: 94mins
Country: US
Year: 2023

Police detective Danny Rourke is haunted by the one case that he can't solve: the kidnapping of his daughter Minnie. During an elaborate heist, Danny discovers a picture of his daughter, suggesting she may be alive and connected to the mastermind of the robbery: a menacing figure called Dellrayne. Danny becomes laser-focused on learning if he knows Minnie's whereabouts. Unfortunately, Dellrayne can warp perceptions with murderous intent.


LondonNet Film Review

Hypnotic (15) Film Review from LondonNet

According to writer-director Robert Rodriguez’s disorienting thriller, co-written by Max Borenstein, hypnotics are people with the ability to control how we perceive the world and they can control our actions – sometimes with malicious intent – by warping what we believe to be our reality. It’s safe to say that Rodriguez isn’t a hypnotic because at no point during this 94-minute mindbender was I convinced my reality was sitting in a darkened theatre and savouring every hairpin twist of a piece of bold, original and audacious filmmaking. The writer-director began crafting the story for Hypnotic in 2002, several years before Christopher Nolan unleashed Inception to which this tumble down the rabbit hole clearly owes a sizeable, unpaid debt…

Contrary to the title, Rodriguez’s picture film doesn’t hold our attention in a vice-like grip, downshifting to a sluggish crawl for a finale that requires swathes of expository dialogue to clarify a plot within a plot and characters’ secret motivations. Nor does this search for a missing girl outstay its welcome with a lean running time and brisk pacing that encourages audiences to swallow the outlandishness that Rodriguez is serving without questioning its nutritional value. It’s pleasant fast-food genre fare: swiftly consumed and just as easily wiped from the memory.

Police detective Danny Rourke (Ben Affleck) is haunted by the one case that he can’t solve: the abduction of his seven-year-old daughter Minnie (Ionie Olivia Nieves) from a park in the centre of Austin on his parental watch. A prime suspect, Lyle Terry (Evan Vines), pleads not guilty due to mental incapacity, claiming to have no memory of the kidnapping or the girl’s whereabouts. Danny fears he will never see his pride and joy again but is determined to return to work to seek a resolution. “It’s the only thing keeping me sane,” he tells an occupational therapist.

During an elaborate bank heist, Danny discovers a Polaroid of his daughter, suggesting she may still be alive. Beneath the photograph is a handwritten instruction to find someone called Dell Rayne. Evidence leads Danny to a psychic called Diana Cruz (Alice Braga), who introduces the cop to the unseen world of hypnotics. She knows first-hand about Dell Rayne (William Fichtner) and his unmatched ability to controls minds and warp perceptions with murderous intent. Danny fixates on capturing Dell Rayne to finally solve his daughter’s abduction, endangering everyone around him including Diana and his police partner Nicks (JD Pardo).

Hypnotic relishes its own bewilderingly elaborate design by showing us how the magic trick is done as part of a lacklustre final act. Action sequences are solid and Affleck’s gruff demeanour makes sense in retrospect but doesn’t endear his tortured cop in the moment.

– Sarah Lee


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