Features Live Action Movies


Director – Robert Rodriguez – 2023 – US – Cert.15 – 93m


A police detective stumbles upon a conspiracy involving people with mind-bending powers – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 26th

An underlying insistent rhythm opens Hypnotic, the clicking of a pen in a hand. It belongs to the therapist of Danny Rourke (Ben Affleck) and disturbs his recurring memory. He’s in the park watching his seven-year-old daughter. For a moment, his attention wanders. Then he realises she’s gone. Before that, he saw a man, who he is sure must have kidnapped her. The therapist wants to know, does he feel fit enough for active duty?

Then he’s in the squad car with police partner Nicks (JD Pardo), responding to a tip off about an imminent armed robbery of a safe deposit box in a bank. From the CC TV van at the site, he spots two armed security van guys before panning over to the suspicious man (William Fichtner) speaking to a woman on a park bench. She rises and, suddenly convinced there’s a heatwave, starts peeling off layers of clothing as she walks. He says something to the two van guys. After Rourke has talked his way into the bank vault and discovered a Polaroid of his vanished daughter bearing the name Dellrayne inside the safe deposit box, the suspicious man says something to a bank teller, who admits him and the two van guys to the vault. Rourke is in the middle of a robbery. The woman, the two guys and the deposit box (minus the photo) find their way to the van outside, which the man blows up. Rourke pursues him to a rooftop, where he causes two police officers to shoot each other dead before leaping off the edge to vanish into thin air.

Following up the source of the tip off call leads Rourke to Diana Cruz (Alice Braga), who explains that the man, Dellrayne, is a hypnotic: he can use a set of words to alter the environment someone believes themselves to be in, modifying their behaviour accordingly. This is what was happening to the various people around Dellrayne at the robbery. And he is coming to destroy anyone who knows about him, which includes her.

Other little pieces of plot exposition intrude later on into what is essentially an excuse to rehash tired action and other generic scenes as Rourke and Diana go on the run together, with Dellrayne periodically catching up with them. The van and surveillance observation of people wandering around a public square owe much to the opening of The Conversation (Francis Coppola, 1974) although it lacks the same resonance, intensity or depth.

Later, when Rourke and Diana spend the night together in a contact’s house, he is suddenly wandering round with scissors in his hand possibly about to do her harm, recalling the scene when a man wanders around a house where he and his female companion are staying with the blade of an open razor in his hand in Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, 1945). The pursuit of Rourke through a railway train yard throws in visual effects straight out of Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010) as the environment folds over on him, filling up the skyscape, encasing him and preventing his escape.

The central conceit of people who can bend the minds of others by means of trigger words is an intriguing one, but is never fully developed, functioning rather as an excuse to string predictable action sequences together. There’s nothing here we haven’t seen before. The whole thing proves spectacularly unmoving and unengaging, much like that other Ben Affleck science fiction vehicle Paycheck (John Woo, 2003). Alice Braga provides solid support as the woman the hero falls in with. William Fichtner lights up the screen as the villain whenever he appears, much as he does in the opening scene of The Dark Night (Christopher Nolan, 2008), but his captivating presence in Hypnotics isn’t enough to save the movie.

Hypnotic is out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, May 26th.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *