Hypnotic (2023) Review – Despite its best efforts, the movie is less than “what meets the eye”

The movie is less than what meets the eye

Hypnotic, a co-production involving the new and exciting Solstice Studios, goes for the jugular with an Inception meets Shutter Island mashup. The film is truly brimming with inspiration and positivity at its seams but turns out to be not as effective as promised. When the first trailer dropped, it was clear a lot of time was spent making it. Most trailers today give away the central conceit to some extent. But the trailer for Hypotonic enticingly kept its cards close to its chest.

Even when you watch around 75 minutes of the movie’s total runtime of 85 minutes, there is reluctance on the filmmakers’ part to give away the details. And that is why the final ending seems contrived, panicky, and loosely put together to spoil the largely commendable build-up. The problem with Hypnotic is not its intention but the creators overplaying their creative cards to make the film into something groundbreaking. There was more evidence of the makers “trying to” make it into a great film rather than “letting it” be one.

Ben Affleck, Alice Braga, and William Fichtner star in major roles. But it is truly the story that takes all the attention. It is difficult to describe the film’s plot without giving too much away (God knows how they made such a brilliant trailer). The gist of the plot is Danny Rourke (Affleck), a police detective, seeking his daughter Minnie for years. She was kidnapped four years ago but her body was never discovered, even as her kidnapper, Tyler Lyle was apprehended. A series of unusual bank heists reignite hopes for Rourke to find his daughter. But his path is riddled with sensational revelations and tricky truths about himself.

There are a lot of upheavals to what happens next and it is best to see Hypnotic to get the full extent of it. However that might turn out for you, there is an inescapable truth about the film that it does contain sparks of creative brilliance. A lot of work has gone into creating its complex visual language and the plot with all of its logistical difficulties, is overcome with smart editing and dextrous camerawork. The set building and production are also top-notch, ensuring that Hypnotic takes an atmospheric toll on the viewers.

As far as the writing is concerned, Hypnotic has interesting ingredients that make for a compelling cinematic experience. It poses all the right questions about Rourke and Diana’s journey to finding Minnie and figuring out who “Lev Dellrayne” is but the final punch with the answers is where it misses the plot. All of the film’s early promise is drained with an ending that seems like a compromise. This isn’t in the sense that the creators were not allowed to do this but just that they couldn’t figure out the final piece of the puzzle. Hypnotic does not remain grounded in its structure as it keeps trying to upend the boundaries.

The uneven execution really leaves you frustrated. As a viewer, it is difficult to digest the jarring turns Rourke’s search for answers takes. Connecting the dots is easy but creative misgivings about the storytelling’s substance are certainly not. Hypnotic was in desperate need of more capable directorial hands. Robert Rodriguez does not show a selfless commitment to the characters or the film’s cinematic universe. His process gives us the feeling he was detached from its cinematic realities and wanted to leave his imprint on Hypnotic more than nudging it in a direction more suitable for its fortunes. Not only does Rodriguez mess up his cues as a narrator but he also does an unsatisfactory job with stage direction.

Affleck is someone who has trouble doing more with less. He is clearly not an actor – like Alice Braga – who can hold your attention with the slightest of facial expressions or emotional depth. And Rodriguez does him no favours by abandoning him in front of the camera. There are so many occasions where Affleck is clueless and unworthy of following as a viewer. The story does not unfold through his presence and charisma. Fichtner’s portrayal is stunted due to the inherent restrictions of his character. Braga is the shining light as Diana, effortlessly changing gears as her arc takes bolder strides in the film.

Hypnotic deserves a ceremonial watch for fans of the sci-fi genre. It is serviceable at the most generous of characterizations, and pointless at the most critical. There is sadly no in-between; no middle ground that average cinemagoers can hold on to.


Read More: Hypnotic Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 5.5/10

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