Hypnotic (2023)

Hypnotic (2023)

A low-grade thriller so committed to its own absurdity that it pulls off being so-bad-it’s-actually-fun



United Kingdom, United States of America
Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller
Alice Braga, Ben Affleck, Corina Calderon
94 min


They truly don’t make them like this anymore (derogatory).

What it's about

A detective’s search for his kidnapped daughter spirals into a mind-bendingly twisty quest.

The take

This B-movie sci-fi-action-thriller from co-writer-director Robert Rodriguez starts out like a hammy pastiche of (the already overdone) Taken, but its interminable succession of galaxy-brain twists reveals other obvious influences — among them Inception, Memento, and Shutter Island. Fine ingredients, but the recipe is all wrong, as a gravelly-voiced, seemingly barely awake Ben Affleck sleepwalks his way through the cringy dialogue. Alongside William Fichtner in shady supervillain mode, Affleck is joined in that endeavor by Alice Braga as the psychic who is (seemingly) helping his Detective Rourke track down his (again, seemingly!) kidnapped daughter, though what Braga mostly does is hold the audience’s hand and explain the plot’s increasingly convoluted sci-fi elements to us. At one point, she tells Rourke that “pain keeps the mind awake” — and, while the excruciating script doesn’t seem to have that effect on Affleck (judging from his lethargic performance), it’s hard not to find yourself a little enlivened by Hypnotic’s sheer absurdity.

What stands out

There is a kind of ironic fun to be had in watching something so balls-to-the-wall ridiculous, especially when the central performance is as hilariously disinterested as Affleck’s. What’s more, there’s something warmly nostalgic in Hypnotic’s schlocky qualities — it feels like the resurrection of an unproduced script from the early 2000s, the kind that we don’t really see anymore. While we’re mostly better off for that, in small quantities, something like Hypnotic works well as a guilty pleasure throwback.


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