Desperate to find his kidnapped daughter, Detective Danny Rourke must battle with not only those around him wanting to control his mind but with the very world he lives in. But where does one world end the other start?
From director Robert Rodriguez who gave us the beautifully chaotic ‘From Dusk ‘Til Dawn’ and ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ amongst others, comes a mind bending story about what is real and unreal, right and wrong, good and bad. With his 30-year journey as a famously self-taught filmmaker, can Rodriguez apply all that experience (with mostly action-based outings) to something a little more cerebral?
Starring Ben Affleck as detective Danny Rourke, a troubled father with a missing daughter, we are thrown quickly into his depressive state of mind after his daughter’s disappearance, as it seems that life is now no longer worth living. But when William Fichtner (Batman, Dark Knight) turns up as the hypnotic mastermind Dellrayne things begin to heat up. Dellrayne is able to control people around him with just a few words to do with as he pleases, namely to steal items from bank vaults belonging to Detective Rourke, but for what cause?
By this point quite early on we are in steady hands, with Affleck and co turning in solid acting performances. But hang on, did someone say hypnosis? And this is where the film is not what it seems. Taking twists and turns, the story speeds up considerably, but this is where the film falls apart a little and my enjoyment lessened. Rodriguez seems to borrow storytelling elements from other successful mind-bending films, like Inception, but they seem oddly out of place. Apparently Rodriguez wrote the screenplay to Hypnotic in 2002, which may explain why his attempt at this genre seems a little… dated?
Speaking of films like Inception, it almost seems like a director like Christopher Nolan, who’s is more adept at dealing with complicated, timelines/narratives, would have been better directing such a film. Although Rodriguez is able to bring the humour here, something we rarely see in a Nolan flick and can make more recent efforts like Tenet seem a little too draining.
With Hypnotic though, a longer runtime to open up the characters further would have worked better rather than trimming for the sake of speed and action. As we get further into the run time of the film, we come to realise we don’t know what we know, leaving us as the audience without a real drive to unravel the complicated plot, feeling like you’re starting back at square one.
To be clear, the ride is fun and rarely drags, but the story is so confused and unfortunately would not be any clearer upon a second viewing. Overall, the sum of the parts are greater than the finished product. With Texas being Rodriguez’s third choice of location after Los Angeles and Toronto, we are back to his trusted back yard where he has succeeded many times before. Unfortunately, here with limited promotional trailers – even with a decent budget of $65million, it could have been so much more. A greater push for more clarity to the premise of the film would have avoided the confusion both during and after I left the cinema.
Author: Piers, Maidstone Store