Hypnotic: a scifi film review by Mark Kermode (video).

Our man of many movies, Mark Kermode, is back once more, this time to give his views on the SF flick Hypnotic.

And what did we think, here at SFcrowsnest Towers? ‘Hypnotic’: the title may hint at a mesmerising spectacle that has the audience entranced from the opening scene, but it seems Robert Rodriguez and Max Borenstein took it a bit too literally, crafting a plot more tangled than a plate of spaghetti. The combined allure of Rodriguez’s cinematic reputation and the unfailingly appealing Ben Affleck initially piqued interest. However, Affleck playing a jaded, tormented detective hardly pushed any boundaries for the actor, leaving many wondering if the role was custom-tailored for him.

The narrative follows the formulaic blueprint of hero’s descent into despair, with Affleck’s character, Danny Rourke, battling the demons of past trauma, his daughter’s abduction, and a disintegrating marriage. Just when you thought it couldn’t get more stereotypical, Rodriguez and Borenstein insert the notion of ‘Hypnotics’ – essentially agents capable of extraordinary mind control, leading to a cascade of chaos and confusion.

The plot twists and turns more than a roller coaster, taking the audience on a disorienting ride, often at the expense of coherent storytelling or emotional connectivity. Rourke is sucked into a vortex of misleading leads and a parade of double, triple, quadruple crosses that add complexity, but do little for comprehensibility. Even for the most ardent sci-fi fan, it becomes a challenge to track who’s controlling who, who is indeed who, and whether the unravelling storyline has any real bearing.

One must commend Rodriguez for his knack for visual extravaganza, a staple in his cinematic offerings. The cast, including Alice Braga as Cruz (or Vivian?), valiantly attempts to infuse depth into the convoluted narrative. The revelation of Domino’s identity offers a hint of unpredictability, if only the audience wasn’t left too disoriented to fully appreciate the surprise.

As the climactic showdown unfurls, with Minnie utilising her powers to vanquish the Division agents, the scene feels more akin to an over-the-top magic show rather than an emotionally charged resolution. The long-awaited reunion between Rourke and Minnie, now three years older, offers more of a sense of fatigue than relief.

In the film’s closing act, a mid-credits scene tantalisingly dangles the prospect of yet another twist. Because what ‘Hypnotic’ evidently lacked was another plot convolution, of course.

In the grand scheme of things, ‘Hypnotic’ could be likened to a cinematic pinball game – flashy, noisy, and utterly unpredictable. Whether the journey leaves the audience feeling hypnotised or merely perplexed, the jury is still out. One thing is certain, though, ‘Hypnotic’ certainly offers a ride that’s… let’s leave it at ‘interesting’ for the SFcrowsnest readership.


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