The Art of Deception: a Grand Sleight of Hand on the Silver Screen
Genre: Action, Mystery, Thriller
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 33m
Director(s): Robert Rodriguez
Writer(s): Robert Rodriguez, Max Borenstein
Cast: Ben Affleck, Alice Braga, JD Pardo, Hala Finley, Dayo Okeniyi, Jeff Fahey, with Jackie Earle Haley, William Fichtner
Where To Watch: in theaters May 12, 2023
RAVING REVIEW: HYPNOTIC is a cocktail of mystery and suspense, where we join detective Danny Rourke, portrayed by Ben Affleck, in his relentless quest to locate his missing daughter. The plot thickens as Rourke navigates a perplexing series of bank heists orchestrated by the mysterious Liv Del Rayne, a character William Fichtner portrays with chilling perfection. Along this puzzling journey, Rourke is accompanied by Diana Cruz, a psychic with exceptional abilities, played by Alice Braga, who assists in helping decode the disappearance of his daughter.
HYPNOTIC exemplifies director Robert Rodriguez's belief that financial restrictions don't necessarily hamper the creative experience. With a mix of INCEPTION’s world-bending and NOW YOU SEE ME’s innovative style of only showing you what you need to see, this film will capture the minds of those willing to dig into the twists and turns throughout the film.
The film examines many intriguing topics, from hypnosis to AI and even simple sleight of hand on a large scale. Making you realize that what you think you’re seeing may not be that at all. Despite a few stumbles, the plot reflects Rodriguez's multi-faceted contribution to the script and his sprawling control over the production as director, producer, and even editor roles. His fingerprints are all over the film, and in my opinion, he’s taking a dangerous path by making his projects a “family affair” with one of his sons being his composer, another as co-writer/producer, his daughter doing storyboards, and his other son doing animatics, with help on editing from another son. I’m not saying that’s bad, but it could lead to conflicts of interest if he’s not careful.
The film gives away too much of its mystery early on, making a big scene later in the movie pretty anticlimactic. However, HYPNOTIC makes up for this with an onslaught of unexpected revelations, narrative shifts, and unexpected twists that keep the audience hooked.
Fichtner, as the antagonist, emanates an eerie presence from his first scene. Affleck’s presence in the film felt a little inconsistent, I don’t know if that was due to editing or other obligations, but it felt a little unbalanced.
HYPNOTIC shines with a formidable cast, as Affleck takes center stage as the haunted detective Daniel Rourke. As well as William Fichtner’s portrayal of Dellrayne, where you never quite know his intentions, even when you think you do. At its heart, HYPNOTIC is a film that strives to balance the thrill of mystery with the emotional weight of its characters' journeys but sometimes stumbles in finding the perfect equilibrium.
However, the unexpected turns and lingering sense of intrigue make HYPNOTIC a fun journey into suspense/thriller cinema. The film's commitment to its central mystery always remains with the quest to solve the enigma of Rourke's missing daughter. The exploration of hypnosis, “magic,” and more as a theme will keep audiences intrigued and invested.
HYPNOTIC makes for a memorable viewing experience. It dares to delve into the unknown, take risks, and experiment, and it deserves a watch. Especially with its pleasant, tidy hour-and-a-half runtime, making for an easy watch that wraps everything up (even if it does so in a little bit of a rush at the end.)
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[photo courtesy of KETCHUP ENTERTAINMENT]