Review: Sci-fi thriller ‘Hypnotic’ frustrates as an over-plotted mess

Ben Affleck in Hypnotic (Double R Productions)

Noted film critic Roger Ebert often quipped something to the effect that no good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.

The latest case in point of the latter assertion is the sci-fi thriller “Hypnotic,” a frustratingly convoluted movie that seems to go on forever despite its running time of just over an hour and a half.

The over-baked film, co-written by Robert Rodriquez and Max Borenstein with Rodriguez directing, is “Inception” lite, but without as much clarity as Christopher Nolan infused into his brain-tickler of a film.

Though the movie deals in layered dream – like versions of reality to purposely lead the viewer down several different paths and action set pieces, the trip is so exhausting and unappealing I felt like a rat running on a spinning wheel as the bottom continued to fall out of the unraveling narrative.

I’ll give Rodriguez one thing, watching the movie did simulate fighting your way through a series of nightmares, only to wake up realizing you were rousted from slumber by the urgent need to urinate.

I’m not sure what lead actor Ben Affleck owed Rodriguez to accept a starring part in this film, but he did his director a small favor by appearing in this movie. Affleck as the star is what interested me enough to buy a ticket.

His police detective character, Danny Rourke is on a quest to reconnect with his daughter Minnie (Hala Finley) and his wife Vivian (Alice Braga), but nothing is like it seems in this movie. Nothing.

Affleck is playing his “aloof hero” type that is fairly effective, but if he felt silly spouting the lines of Batman on screen, he couldn’t have felt great about the gobbledygook this film serves up.

The movie was as hard a sit as I have had at the cinema in a good while. Unless you are just an Affleck or Rodriguez completest, this movie is an easy pass.

If you are a devoted fan of Affleck’s, check out his latest directorial effort “Air,” in which he also has a supporting role. It’s a fine film, my favorite of the year. It’s still in theaters.

As for Rodriguez, dig a bit deeper into his catalogue and check out “El Mariachi,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” “Sin City,” or “The Faculty.” None are great movies, but all are fun and stylish.

Your time will be much better spent than sitting through “Hypnotic.”

(R) 1 hr. 33 min.
Grade: D

New in Local Theaters – May 12, 2023

Book Club: The Next Chapter (PG-13) 1 hr. 47. Min. (trailer)(AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Rogers Towne, Skylight)
Hypnotic (R) 1 hr. 33 min. (trailer)(AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle)
Fool’s Paradise (R) 1 hr. 37 min. (trailer)(AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle)
Blackberry (R) 1 hr. 59 min. (trailer)(Malco Pinnacle)

Classic Corner – ‘Grease’ returns to the big screen to kick off summer

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease (Paramount Pictures)

“Grease” was the word in 1978 when the throwback musical set in the 1950s topped the box office, and it’s the word again at the Malco Razorback.

The classic high-school musical starring Olivia Newton-John opposite John Travolta plays at 4 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday

“Grease” remains a beloved movie for film fans who grew up with it. It’s a teen fantasy that shines a spotlight on the talents of Travolta at his apex, as well as on his co-star Newton-John, a pop sensation of the day.

Travolta played cool gang leader Danny, and Newton-John charmed as Sandy, the ingenue who caught his eye. The chemistry is palpable, dare I say “electrifying” between the two.

Travolta’s charisma is on full display in the musical that homages and parodies the teen B-movies of the 1950s and ’60s. The movie lacks the drama of his break-out hit “Saturday Night Fever” from 1977, but it’s more fun and perhaps even holds up better.

Newton-John can’t quite match Travolta’s swagger, but she’s perfectly cast as the adoring Sandy, who toughens up with a little help from her friends the Pink Ladies for the musical’s climax “You’re the One That I Want.”

The film also features standout numbers “Summer Loving,” “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” and “Greased Lightning,” along with several other fun tunes that help tell the tale of Danny and Sandy’s senior year at Rydell High.

The film is uniformly well cast with Stockard Channing stealing scenes as Rizzo, the leader of the Pink Ladies, and Jeff Conaway (from TV’s “Taxi”) turning on the cool as Kenickie, Danny’s best friend and second in charge of their gang the T-Birds.

It’s a perfect movie to kick off the summer, and there is no better way to watch it than on the big screen.