SXSW 2023: Robert Rodriguez Brings Hypnotic to The Festival

Hypnotic Movie Review Ben Affleck Robert Rodriguez

Hypnotic Synopsis: A detective becomes entangled in a mystery involving his missing daughter and a secret government program while investigating a string of reality-bending crimes.

The Good

Throw away everything you think you know about Hypnotic. Seriously, put it in the trash and walk into this movie prepared to be mind fucked. Hypnotic presents itself as a run-of-the-mill detective story. That’s just the bait because what Robert Rodriguez actually crafts here is not the average detective movie. Ben Affleck stars as Detective Daniel Rourke who we meet Daniel at a low point in his life after suffering a child abduction of his daughter. Now, most parents typically suffer some sort of mental breakdown after the disappearance of a child. Emotionally, spiritually and sometimes even physically, things just fall apart. Detective Rourke here is a man throwing himself into his work to try to muster a semblance of a life. 

Ben delivers a fun performance as this grizzly detective and even treats fans to the return of his Batman voice in this film. Detective Rourke’s first day back to work with the Austin PD is a doozie as he’s hunting down serial bank robbers in the Texas area. The movie is centered on Detective Rourke unraveling the mystery of a string of bank robberies that shockingly tie into the disappearance of his daughter. Who is Lev Dellrayne? That’s what we need to find out!

Hypnotic is a mind-bending tale that takes lots of twists and turns throughout its story. For your sake, and to avoid the wrath of Baby Machete, I can’t tell you everything that happens in this movie.  The cinematography in Hypnotic is really creative and there are a lot of moments that will make you do double-takes. What’s interesting is that the movie makes you question what it is you’re seeing in a very old-fashioned way. Rodriguez was cool enough to explain that he drew inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s movies for this film. 1-word movie titles like Psycho and Vertigo inspired the title Hypnotic and the use of quick edits inspired the storytelling. There’s not much, if any, use of CGI in this film and that’s also effective in the storytelling. My guard is all the way down and Rodriguez uses that moment to mind-fuck you. That’s it, that’s all I can say by or risk the wrath of Baby Machete.

Shout out to Robert Rodriguez for casting William Fichtner in this movie as he is someone who is consistently outstanding. Also, shout out to Alice Braga’s strong performance as the mysterious but knowledgeable psychic Diane Cruz. When we meet Diane show quickly shows that she’s sassy, mysterious, and but also 1 step ahead of Detective Rourke. JD Pardo trades in his biker gang jacket for a police badge in this and it’s amazing how similar each side of the law is to the other. Robert Rodriguez has a good knack for casting a primarily Latino cast and has an eye for casting the right people in the right roles. I love this and this cast because they work so well.

The Bad

The version of Hypnotic at SXSW is still a work in progress and it can be tough to follow all of the story twists. there are some character developments in Hypnotic that may require an explanation from a friend. For example, there’s a scene in which Detective Rourke and Diane’s relationship takes an unexpected turn. The reason why this happens is tricky to follow and the relationship shift can seem odd if you’re not paying close attention. The use of fast edits in these scenes might get addressed before the final version hits theaters but it’s a challenge in its current state.

Even the ending of Hypnotic suffers from confusing editing and I especially have a hard time with the final moments. There are a lot of fast edits and fake-outs that occur in the final scenes of the movie that are confusing. Did I just see what I think I saw? Probably not. Who’s side are we on now? Good question. Are the protagonists safe now? no friggin clue.


I need a sequel. First, I need them to finish this movie so I can re-watch the ending but then I need a sequel. Hypnotic is a great ride and I enjoy the journey but the ending is a struggle. The ending doesn’t ruin what we see prior, a-la-Game of Thrones, but it does need work.

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Robert Rodriguez Brings Hypnotic to SXSW
  • Acting - 8/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 6/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 8/10
  • Setting/Theme - 8/10
  • Watchability - 9/10
  • Rewatchability - 9/10
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About Anthony Whyte

Content Manager | Senior Editor | Daydreamer | Keep your head on a swivel and don't blink