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Hypnotic (2023) Spoiler-Free Review

Robert Rodriguez wrote the original idea for this film back in 2002, calling it one of his favorite stories; and I think that level of care shows onscreen throughout this wild ride of a movie. It’s centered around a Detective Rourke discovering his daughter’s kidnapping might be connected to an elaborate series of bank heists, uncovering a larger coverup in the process. Even based on the trailer, it’s clear some aspects of this movie’s aesthetics are couched in the early 2000s, but I think that adds to its charm. Rodriguez is known for his B-movie flare, and that’s no different here (in the best of ways). I hate to see how negative the reviews for this film have been, because I think it’s a really entertaining sci-fi thriller. We should applaud filmmakers like Rodriguez taking swings this big!

Sure, there are a couple things here that feel derivative of movies like Inception (2010), especially when talking about the film’s mind-bending (albeit smaller-budgeted) visuals; but Rodriguez isn’t taking himself as seriously as Nolan did, and it works wonders. There are some moments where the lighting is incredibly expressive, using color to build tone and atmosphere. The camerawork here is also very creative, especially how the focus-pulling is able to slide in a few very fun mind-fucks that expand our understanding of story and character. As far as the cinematography, there are definitely some aspects of the film’s technical elements (lighting, framing etc.) that make it feel pulled from the wave of early 2000s action movies that shaped my childhood; but unlike most reviewers, I don’t see that as a bad thing. This movie understands its limits, and because of that it’s able to play with viewer expectations while sneaking in some fairly interesting social commentary regarding government, human connection, memory and time. It’s no philosophical treatise, but it also isn’t trying to be, and that works just fine with the themes its juggling.

Even as far as the acting performances go, I think most reviewers have been too harsh on this movie. Affleck provides a great action movie lead, staying stoic for the most part but also showing a bit of range when need be; and Alice Braga does a phenomenal job in her supporting role, displaying a level of commitment that adds a layer of humanity to the spectacular visuals and high-octane shootouts. There’s also something to be said about how the script isn’t afraid to take sharp turns at a moment’s notice, and how these actors did a great job of bringing that energy to life while still staying centered around their characters’ humanity.

In a world where theaters are dominated by the safety of franchises, remakes and adaptations, it’s refreshing to see a movie take risks like this. The early 2000s elements of the film make it feel more accessible, and add great amount of fun to the viewing experience. It’s a shame Hypnotic underperformed in its first weekend in theaters; but that’s why I hope you take the time to go see it in a theater near you! It’s a ton of fun, with great cinematography and a script that’ll keep you guessing. If you enjoyed this review, consider subscribing to the blog’s Patreon by clicking here! It helps pay the various fees that come with running a website, and keeps this blog ad-free and independent. There are also some cool benefits for those who choose to support the blog in this way including: suggesting which movies I review, getting personalized movie recommendations, access to free giveaways and more!

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