If Hypnotic were made at the tail end of the ’90s, following Ben’s run of perfectly enjoyable though somewhat cheesy and simplistic mainstream B-movies – like Phantoms, Reindeer Games, Boiler Room, Payback, and Armageddon – it wouldn’t at all look out of place on the older Affleck brother’s CV. But in 2023, we’re now referring to a multi-hyphenate who has helmed some of the best films of the past ten to fifteen years, let along anchored thrillers much more decent than his latest.
One of the more minimal films in not only Affleck’s recent product catalogue, but also that of writer-director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids), Hypnotic is the kind of uproariously silly camp thriller that likely read much better on paper than it plays. Not to say it’s a clunker, it’s far from that, but it’s not of the calibre of film audiences expect from the star and director of Argo and The Town.
A sort-of inferior take on The Hidden, Fallen, and two of Christopher Nolan’s excellent works Inception and Memento – a homage to all, maybe – Hypnotic sees Affleck’s Austin-based detective chasing a mysterious criminal whose bank robberies might also be tied to his missing daughter. As he inches closer to the truth, his Danny Rourke finds himself caught up in a trippy, mind-bending journey where nothing and nobody is who they seem on the surface.
Cinema’s most recent Batman is perfectly fine, if not a bit heavy-eyed in the titular role, with The Suicide Squad alum Alice Braga offering ample support as his mysterious assistant in the pursuit of truth, but the always-dependable William Fichtner (“Prison Break”, Drive Angry) keeps audiences just as interested in proceedings as Rodriguez’s overstuffed but fun plot does. His villain is played with the same kind of cool, cold steel Fichtner has perfected over the years and here paints us a memorable and menacing new movie monster of another ilk in his Dellrayne.
In twenty years, Hypnotic might be referred to as an underrated classic. Today, it’ll likely do little more than easily help pass an hour and a half.