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'Hypnotic' review: Ben Affleck gets entangled inside bonkers head trip

Courtesy of Ketchup Entertainment


If you threw, “Shutter Island,” “Memento,” “Inception” and “The Truman Show” into a blender, you’ll get something that resembles Robert Rodriguez’s “Hypnotic,” a silly, lean, and against all odds, moderately entertaining head trip that doesn’t pander to the audience. Sure, you need to have a good sense of humor if you’re going to find any enjoyment in the films’ ludicrous premise, but the argument could be made everyone involved, especially lead star Ben Affleck, knew this wasn’t going to reach the echelon of the movies mentioned above, but the effort for trying to make a 90-minute genre picture isn’t lost on this viewer. This is the same critic who will defend “The Faculty” until the day he dies. 

Unlike the filmmakers previous movies, this doesn’t deal with Spy Kids, Danny Trejo, or an alien organism infiltrating a school, but the idea that hypnosis can be folded into some type of biochemical weapon. Or something like that. There comes a point where Rodriguez and co-writer Max Borenstein throw so much confounding exposition and background chatter into the movie, your best hope is to trust the process. “Hypnotic” is rewarding in the sense that if you give the movie an inch, you could walk away satisfied at the end. Having absurd expectations in check is certainly a prerequisite. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

Affleck plays Danny Rourke, with the stereotypical low growl often reserved for Batman, a budding detective reeling from the disappearance of his young daughter who is currently entangled in a game of chicken with a bank robber named Dellrayne (William Fichtner - always welcome). But Dellrayne isn’t your typical bank robber. For starters, he doesn’t steal money, rather, the contents of various safety deposit boxes and he has this supernatural-like ability that allows him to hypnotize random bystanders in real time. These are not the droids you’re looking for. 

This weird goose chase leads Danny to fellow hypnotist, Diana (Alice Braga) who tells him how dangerous Dellrayne is and unspools some hilarious backstory about an underground syndicate of “hypnotics” hellbent on influencing world events. In some abnormal, convoluted way, this all leads back to Danny’s past in methods nobody could foresee, but one admires the filmmakers for even taking the chance. There was an era when these types of movies would come out regularly and not just on streaming. 

“Hypnotic” never hides its influences (the visual palette is essentially the cheap version of “Inception”) and that’s what makes it bearable. The movie only runs a blissful 90-minutes, making every second count and Affleck, in a rare genre turn, is completely game for wherever this shaky rabbit hole leads. It’s not going to change your life, but “Hypnotic” is a taunt little diversion that’ll play gangbusters on whatever cable channel snags broadcasting rights and airs it on repeat. 

Grade: B- 

HYPNOTIC opens in theaters Friday, May 12th. 


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