You don't need to get "Hypnotic" to enjoy
Robert Rodriguez's new film, "Hypnotic" is his take on the classic film noir. And that's what makes it a lot of fun to watch. What are the ingredients of a film noir? A washed-up protagonist is thrust into a situation that is over their head. A woman comes to help but learns it might be in her best interest to double cross them. And a cast of characters that are entertaining but you're not sure where they stand until the end of the show. This is an entertaining romp and exciting to watch Mr. Rodriguez pay homage to his cinematic influences.
The story starts off with Detective Danny Rourke (Ben Affleck) in therapy. Years earlier his daughter was kidnapped and the department wants to make sure their detective is mentally ready for the job. After the session his partner, Nicks (JD Pardo), picks him up and races to an Austin Bank where an autonomous tip alerted them of a robbery that will take place. The tipster also informs them the robbers are specifically after a safe deposit box number twenty-three.
They monitor the bank and Detective Rourke notices a man, Dellrayne (William Fichtner), who looks familiar. Rourke follows him against Nicks' protests. Rourke is able to reach the safe deposit box before the heist and finds a picture of his daughter inside. This shifts the movie into high gear. Rourke and Nicks lose the man but not after half the block is destroyed. They locate the tipster who happens to be a fortune-teller, Diana Cruz (Alice Braga). She begins to explain to Detective Rourke the idea of hypnotics and its power to control how people think and what they see. She also informs him that Dellrayne is the most powerful being able to control hypnotics. Soon Dellrayne is back, and wants the photo of Rourke's daughter. Why? Rourke has to find out so the chase is on.
The hypnotic tricks in the film keep you on your toes. It turns allies into enemies. Like a good film noir everyone becomes suspicious. In the middle of the film, the hypnotic power is able to shift the reality around the characters which will lead to a comparison of Christopher Nolan's "Inception." It doesn't exactly go there and it certainly doesn't go as deep and that's a benefit. As we learn what Detective Rourke learns about this new power, Mr. Rodriguez and co-scriptwriter (Max Borenstein), keep it simple. They let us in on its powers but don't make it as complex as Mr. Nolan's epic which is a releif. We can keep up with the movie instead of trying to figure out what we just saw, missing what's in front of us.
The enjoyment of a film noir is watching its protagonist work their way out of the situation they found themselves in. Part of the characteristics of these characters is that you can see how life has worn them down and the desperation that clings to them. That's why its important to find a lead actor that can embody the role. With Mr. Affleck he can sometimes slog through a movie trying to figure out the role. Its extremely frustrating. Here, however, he delivers from the first frame. You feel the weight on his shoulders. He exudes desperation. He's pitch perfect. This is in league with his best performances. It helps that Mr. Rodriguez has surrounded Mr. Affleck with some top-notch talent.
It was fun to see Mr. Rodriguez's cinematic influences play a part in the film. When things quiet down and Detective Rourke and Diana seemed to have found a safe haven the scene turns familiar to Brian DePalma fans when a slow under current of suspense begins to linger. At the end the soundtrack does its best John Carpenter imitation. It was beautiful. And talking about the end I wouldn't leave when the final credits come on. Half the theater left and Mr. Rodriguez still had a couple of more twists to throw at us.
This was an enjoyable film. It kept me thinking that there should be more Neo-noir types in the pipeline. The only problem is Robert Rodriguez's "Hypnotic" was released without much fanfare. I only heard about it after it was released in theaters. Which is a shame. This film is deliciously fun and as many people as possible should go out an watch it.