Friday, December 1, 2023
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Hypnotic Review

Good on Ben Affleck for hanging up the role of Batman and retreating to mediocrity. Back where audiences expect him. He serves up another lukewarm bit of bizarreness by teaming with Spy Kids and Machete director Robert Rodriguez, for the seemingly straight-shooting Hypnotic. Hypnosis is on the cards for this one, a deep sleep soon falls over the viewer as he and the likes of Jeff Fahey take to the screen. Secret governments, missing daughters and every bit of bloodied action stereotype of the last fifteen years, the cast treat themselves to the cliché buffet. Fill your boots folks, they’re open all hours. Expecting more from everyone involved is understandable. These are the people who brought you Sin City and The Tender Bar. Gone Girl is merely a faded memory now. 

Hypnotic becomes a confused and blinkered experience too, never quite focused on its delicate and thriller-clad storytelling. It soon dims and falls into the pot of the brain which will cough out a memory every month or so, then lose it for good. Rodriguez ditches his unique style for a play in the big leagues but does very little with his time there. Sunkissed camera work and some flatlining chemistry with Affleck which sees the latter phone in as he has done since The Accountant. More and more, it comes clear the man is more comfortable behind the camera and in the zone when he sees the story unfold before him. Air and Argo prove just as much. He is still a commendable hand when needed, when he understands what is before him, but the braiding of hair and the subsequent hunt for plot devices and meaning is a bitter pill to swallow for Affleck. 

He does not convince himself of it and therefore the viewer is neither. It takes all of ten minutes to throw Affleck to the wolves and blast him with a shotgun. Surely, in a just world, the film would have ended there, after ten of these lengthy, lacklustre action minutes. Hypnotic struggles not just with its action but image also. It has no clue what it wants to do or be and spends much of its time throwing around supporting characters as though William Fichtner is the answer to some very large problems. Backup this, ten-four that, change the record lads it gets a bit tiresome and it’s only a few minutes in. By the obvious stand-off at the end, the camera shakes almost as much as Fichtner’s character does under the pressure of shooting his way to oblivion. Where the government therapy and red masks come in, nobody knows. 

Rodriguez confirms to the viewers and his cast he has truly no clue what is going on with any of this. Hypnotic manages to coerce itself into this state of feral and strange moments. Nothing matters, none of it moving through with any sense. Supernatural stupidity and an unconvincing series of post-game explanations give everything away yet nothing at all. What a mess. Still, those red suits are quite nice. Must pick up one of those from T.K. Maxx when the next sale is on. Don’t bother picking up Hypnotic though, leave it to rot with the rest of these weirdly mass-produced action filler titles which feature a host of recognisable faces throwing out action cliché as though they are paid by the letter. They probably are.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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