Bennifer Double Feature, Part 1: Hypnotic Only Has Bad Suggestions

The Stream: Ben Affleck gives nothing to this performance.

The Big Screen: It is fast-paced and has an interesting premise.

The Final Bill: A cool premise is squandered on bad choices and sleepy acting.

– Trip Fontaine
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writers: Robert Rodriguez and Max Borenstein
Stars: Ben Affleck, Alice Braga, William Fichtner
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating: R for violence
Runtime: 1 hour 25 minutes
Production Companies: Double R Productions, Hoosegow Productions, Ingenious Media, Solstice Studios, Studio 8
Platform: In theaters on May 12, 2023
Notable Trailers: The Equalizer 3, The Flash, The Last Voyage of the Demeter

Hey, Streamers! There really aren’t any high-profile choices at the theaters this weekend. You could go see Guardians Vol. 3 again or attempt to be hypnotized by the sci-fi, action thriller starring Ben Affleck. You’re getting very sleepy. Very, very sleepy. Very, very, vey sleepy. Sleep! When I snap my fingers, you’ll quack like a duck whenever Mr. Affleck squints solemnly in Hypnotic. *SNAP* Sorry! You may be quacking quite a bit. Anway, here’s how the suggestions in Hypnotic turn out.

Robert Rodriguez, who is best known for directing things like Sin City and From Dusk Til Dawn, co-wrote and directed Hypnotic. It’s a fast-paced action thriller starring Ben Affleck as Danny Rourke, a detective who is grieving the loss of his daughter, who was kidnapped years ago. Danny is also investigating a string of bank robberies in Austin that are somehow connected to his daughter’s disappearance. Things get pretty convoluted as the idea of a hypnotic is introduced when Danny encounters a fortuneteller, Diana Cruz (Alice Braga). Diana explains that a hypnotic is a person who has the power to change another person’s reality through a sort of mind control. Reality-altering hijinks ensue.

I have to say I was pretty disappointed by Hypnotic. Here’s the good thing about this movie: it is 85 minutes long. It has a fast pace and very little time is wasted. I will say though that this could have been even shorter like a 55-minute episode of “The Twilight Zone” or “Black Mirror.” Nevertheless, because the movie moves pretty quickly, it doesn’t allow you time to dwell on all the questions you will inevitably have about this ridiculous plot.

On the other hand, Ben Affleck’s central performance is so sleepy. He clearly does not want to be in this movie. He looks tired and bored. He doesn’t seem to care about finding his daughter or catching any bank robbers. The character is just doing what he’s doing because the script says he has to. There is no motivation, and thus everything else is so unengaging. Alice Braga is good, but she has nothing to work with. She is a pleasant presence on screen and has some fire. However, it’s easy to look good when your scene partner is giving nothing.

Most importantly, the idea of hypnotics altering reality and playing with perception is very interesting. This could have been an intriguing plot device. Visual effects could have been used more effectively to confuse the audience and the main character. It happens a little but not enough to build suspense in the movie. More should have been done with this premise and it just feels wasted.

S2S: Official Rating Scale

Ultimately, Hypnotics‘ best feature is its short runtime. Unfortunately, what could have been an interesting premise is wasted. The lead performance by Affleck is very boring and sad. There is no need to see this movie in a theater. Check it out at home if you want to know what a hypnotic can do. Otherwise, it’s only worth one popped kernel.