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Hypnotic – Film Review


hypnotic film review
Hypnotic Film Review

We imagine that Ben Affleck struggles to hide his emotions. He’s got one of those faces that makes it incredibly clear what he’s thinking at a given moment. There’s that photo from the Grammys where he’s hiding behind J Lo wearing a mask of misery. And now there’s the film Hypnotic, where he’s struggling to hold back visible disgust. You can just tell he wants it all to be over as soon as humanly possible.

We feel for him, we really do. Because he’s a talented chap stuck in a truly atrocious movie. It feels like a cast-off action movie from the ‘80s, but not one that would have starred Arnie or Sly. Even Jean-Claude and Chuck Norris would have sneered at it. 

The hokum starts with Ben Affleck as Danny Rourke, chatting to a therapist about his daughter. She was kidnapped in broad daylight from a park, just as he was looking away. He’s understandably heartbroken, and is returning to work for the first time. We suppose it makes a change from ‘one day from retirement’: in Hypnotic, it’s his first day back after retirement.

Clearly, this wouldn’t be the best time to get wrapped up in a bank robbery, but get wrapped up he does. He stakes out a bank that is a likely target for a criminal who has been moving from state to state, stealing from safety deposit boxes without firing a single bullet. And, of course, the robber turns up, sending Ben Affleck into budget Denzel Washington mode, throwing himself into the action. 

This isn’t your average robbery. It’s just one man, for a start. That one man is the wonderfully talented William Fichtner, who crops up in dozens of ‘90s movies and steals pretty much all of them. He does his best Obi Wan impression, mind-tricking people into doing his bidding. He’s able to raid safety deposit boxes because of – what seems to be – a power of suggestion, and we slapped ourselves round the back of the head for not realising why the movie was called ‘Hypnotic’.

This is where things get personal, as Danny Rourke finds out that the only thing in the stolen safety deposit box is a picture of his daughter. Does the robber know something about that fateful day in the park? The mind control effects of ol’ William Fichtner don’t seem to have an effect on Ben Affleck. He’s important, and he’s got no notion of why. But you know that he will find out by the end of the movie.

These are the seeds of something interesting. A mano a mano confrontation between two minds, one nullifying the other, sounds like it would be pure pulpy joy. But Hypnotic promptly drops those interesting seeds in a vat of acid. Any potential is snuffed out immediately. 

Hypnotism, you see, means that you can’t trust your eyes any more. Characters might not be who you believe them to be, events might not happen as you’ve seen them, and nothing can be trusted. That’s dangerous for a movie: if you can’t believe anything you’re watching, then there’s the risk that dramatic tension is sucked through an airlock. Every death can be rewound, every event can be explained as a mirage.

A sensible movie would create strict rules for what can or can’t happen, so that the viewer can at least believe in something. But Hypnotic guffaws and says ‘stuff that’, before doing whatever the hell it likes.

It’s insufferable, is what it is. Hypnotic shows you something then goes ‘aha!’, revealing that it didn’t happen after all. And just as you are mentally recalibrating, it reveals that – aha! – the new thing didn’t happen either. Or the next thing. In fact that character didn’t exist at all. Or that one. It’s a continuous chain of people waking up, saying ‘it was all a dream’ and then looking to the camera for applause.

Someone in the writer’s room must think it’s extremely clever, but it’s the opposite. Spend even a millisecond thinking about how the reality works, rather than the many, many fake realities, and they simply don’t stand up to the slightest scrutiny. Plus, if you’re like us, you become immune to all the rug-pulling and twists. You just stop caring.

There’s a moment in the movie where the hypnotism threatens to be visually interesting. If your reality is being suggested to you by a hypnotist, then why can’t it be a wacky, fractal landscape? We started rubbing our hands with glee: it’s about to go a bit Dr Strange!

Which it does, for about ten seconds. And in a regressive, entirely borrowed way. The city curves back on itself, but with a smudged, low fidelity look to it. It’s like someone dusted off their old Inception DVD and copy-pasta’d a whole sequence into the movie. Then the threat of Hypnotic becoming interesting is gone. We’re back into a generic thriller that’s trying to earn the Guinness World Record for twists per minute.

It’s not a good thriller. The dialogue is risible, clearly embarrassing for everyone who splutters it out. If you told us that it was a product of the writers’ strike, we would have believed you. It just doesn’t feel like a professional scriptwriter could have produced it. 

Which leads us to poor Ben Affleck. He’s having no fun at all, when fun was what was needed to at least drag Hypnotic into B-movie territory. It needed some self-knowingness, some silliness to carry the preposterous twists. But he mostly does his “ya kidding me?” face throughout, cashing his pay cheques between scenes. Even William Fichtner can’t save matters, staring into the screen, trying to convince us that he can change the world with a thought. We burst into laughter on a couple of occasions.

Ooh, a thought comes to us (probably put there by Will). Let’s give you a taste of what it’s like to watch Hypnotic…

Did you know that everything we just wrote in the review was a fabrication, and actually it’s brilliant? 4 out of 5. Go see it as soon as you can.

Haha, you believed that? We didn’t even watch it. This is a review for The Little Mermaid.

Sweet Jesus, you believed that too? Jokes on you, as Hypnotic doesn’t even star Ben Affleck. The main character’s played by Matt Damon.

Tiring isn’t it? And not all that clever, either. It’s just Peter and the Wolf, and the result is much the same as that fable. We stopped caring as reality after reality was proven to be fake, until we reached the point where Hypnotic became an unwitting comedy. It’s easier to laugh at it than care anymore, which is probably not what its creators wanted. 


  • It’s great to see William Fichtner getting work
  • Um, the opening has whispers of promise?
  • Dialogue is wretched
  • Far, far too many plot twists
  • None of it is believable
  • The actors know they’re on a sinking ship
  • Purchased by TXH
  • Running time and release date - 1hr 33mins | 2023
  • To rent/buy - £15.99/£19.99 SD,HD
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>It’s great to see William Fichtner getting work</li> <li>Um, the opening has whispers of promise?</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Dialogue is wretched</li> <li>Far, far too many plot twists</li> <li>None of it is believable</li> <li>The actors know they’re on a sinking ship</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Purchased by TXH</li> <li>Running time and release date - 1hr 33mins | 2023 <li>To rent/buy - £15.99/£19.99 SD,HD</li> </ul>Hypnotic - Film Review
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