The Pitch: Danny Rourke (Ben Affleck) is your run-of-the-mill city cop. He’s fit, mumbles almost every sentence, and makes decisions based on his always-correct intuition (who else needs standard procedure?!). Of course, he is also preoccupied with a terrible story: the kidnapping of his daughter. Ten minutes later, and it’s set up as a classic detective-driven action, except for one small catch – hypnotics.
You see, in this world, Jedi mind tricks are real. With a little more than the right phrase and a wave of your hand, you can control another person… as long as you have enough of anything HypnoticThe analogue of midichlorians is, that. Like Christopher Nolan dash (a film that undoubtedly influenced the script of Hypnotic), this is a world that constantly questions its own established reality, and the rabbit hole reaches deep.
While trying to prevent a bank robbery, Rourke stumbles into this world of hypnotics, which leads him to unravel a deep state conspiracy that seems to bring back his missing daughter. Que dash foghorn.
Yesterday’s High Concepts: On paper, the pitch does robert rodriguezof Hypnotic it looks like the kind of action movie that is rarely made; High-concept popcorn flicks that center on government conspiracies and general themes of family, free will, or basic morality. They’re movies that take a fairly archetypal story, add one or two obscure sci-fi elements to it, and squeeze in 90 minutes of conflict. Think Minority Report or Eagle Eye, Next or Law Abiding Citizen. Hell, even Affleck himself is no stranger to the micro-genre, as far as anyone remembers wage can confirm.
Look closely, and you will see the common denominator that connects all of these examples: a release date of 2000. And despite being released 13 years after that decade, Hypnotic felt no difference. If the film was labeled as a long-lost Ben Affleck vehicle from 2009, no one would think twice. Everything from its concept to the exposition-heavy script to the yellowed color grading and action choreography just oozes a clear tone. No wonder, then, that the origin of Hypnotic date back to 2002.
Whether it was a conscious artistic decision or not, the 2000s vibes translate to the performances as well. Affleck’s gruff, angry-yet-morally-righteous demeanor gives him little room to flex his on-screen chops. He’s charismatic and worth trying, but Danny Rourke’s complexities are overshadowed even by Affleck’s revengeful portrayal of Batman. Other casts are similarly priced: William Fichtner is the uncompromising villain who is always three steps ahead (until he isn’t), and Alice Braga is the expert guide and inevitable love interest. Each plays their part well enough, but the script prevents them from achieving any real brilliance.