Hypnotic (2023)

In 2002, inspired by a restoration of Hitchcock’s 1958 classic Vertigo, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez set out to craft his own Hitchcockian thriller. Rodriguez does Hitchcock? Count me in!

Some 20 years later, that passion project has come to fruition in the form of Hypnotic, a twisty-turney thriller that stars Ben Affleck as Danny Rourke, an Austin-based detective determined to find his missing daughter with the help of a local psychic Diana Cruz (Alice Braga).

While the film suggests an attempt to capture the essence of his earlier works by promising an intriguing cat-and-mouse game with hypnotherapy, shady characters, and reality-bending bank robberies in its DNA, in reality it ends up drowning in a sea of convoluted twists and turns that ultimately lead to an absolute mind-bending mess.

"certainly not the steroid-fueled Hitchcockian thriller Rodriguez was going for"

While on one of his stakeouts following a spate of bank robberies in Houston and Amarillo, Rourke suspects an inside job involving the theft of a single safe deposit box in an Austin bank. Close observation reveals an increasingly suspicious figure (played perfectly by William Fichtner) who may be at the heart of the robberies.

Thinking he may be onto a lead in the case, Rourke unexpectedly breaks the stakeout and enters the bank, beating the mysterious figure to the vault and its contents that prove to be far more valuable than anything they could have imagined. As the robbery unfolds, all hell breaks loose in gunfire and chaos as we see the mysterious figure seemingly manipulate the actions of everyone around him. Everyone but Rourke.

Who is this mystery man, what exactly are his powers, and why does Rourke seem to be unaffected by them? With the help of the psychic Cruz, Rourke navigates the perilous shadow world in which nothing is as it seems.

One of the biggest issues with Hypnotic is something that also plagues many superhero movies; the lack of a tether to reality. Say what you will about that notion, but although Rodriguez, who also co-writes the film, has proven himself capable of creating fantastical worlds that exist in various states of reality, Hypnotic takes it to a whole new level of implausibility. Sure, reality – or the lack thereof – serves a critical function here, but the plot becomes so tangled and far-fetched that it becomes difficult to fully invest in the story.

Another of Hypnotic’s downfalls is its over-reliance on twists and turns. Too many films have done it incorrectly – we’re looking at you Tenet. While a well-executed plot twist can make or break a story, Hypnotic seems to secretly revel in its own convoluted nature and overuse of twists. Too bad we aren’t in on the secret. Instead of building tension and suspense, the constant barrage of surprises, rug pulls, and hidden Mickeys becomes tiresome.Hypnotic (2023)

Furthermore, the mind-bending, shape-shifting elements of the film, around which the entire plot is built, are way too forced and contrived. As executed, the attempts to delve into the depths of the human psyche and explore the power of hypnosis come across as shallow and insufficient. Instead of provoking thought and challenging our perception, these elements simply add to the confusion and contribute to the overall sense of disbelief.

Even the performances from the usually reliable Affleck and Braga (The Suicide Squad), fail to salvage the film. Affleck's protagonist is annoyingly one dimensional and fails to elicit any emotional connection with the audience. Braga, despite her talent, is given little to work with and ends up underutilized despite her ample screen time.

Ultimately, Hypnotic falls way short of its potential. While it shows flashes of Rodriguez's earlier, more successful works, it fails to capture any of the magic that made those films special. The lack of grounding in reality, the convoluted plot, and the forced mind-bending elements all contribute to a disappointing and frustrating viewer experience. Certainly not the steroid-fueled Hitchcockian thriller Rodriguez was going for. You’ll forget this one before you hit the parking lot.

1/5 stars

Film Details

Hypnotic (2023)

MPAA Rating: R for violence.
93 mins
: Robert Rodriguez
Robert Rodriguez; Max Borenstein
Ben Affleck; Alice Braga; JD Pardo
: Mystery | Thriller
Control is an illusion.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
Ketchup Entertainment
Official Site: https://www.hypnoticthemovie.com/
Release Date:
May 14, 2023
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: A detective investigates a mystery involving his missing daughter and a secret government program.


Hypnotic (2023)