Ben Affleck's new movie could end up being the biggest flop of 2023
We'd describe the movie as "What if Michael Bay wrote and directed Inception?". Take from that what you will.
Ben Affleck's new movie Hypnotic arrives in cinemas in Ireland and the UK this week, but you'd be forgiven for thinking someone had waved a little watch side to side in front of you, made you suddenly feel very sleepy, and trick you into thinking you'd never even heard of it before.
But how could that be? One of the biggest stars in the world, releasing a big(ish) action thriller at the early peak of summer blockbuster season, and from Robert Rodriguez, a fairly famous writer/director in his own right. Even the plot synopsis sounds pretty gripping:
"Determined to find his missing daughter, Austin detective Danny Rourke (Ben Affleck) instead finds himself spiralling down a rabbit hole while investigating a series of reality-bending bank robberies where he will ultimately call into question his most basic assumptions about everything and everyone in his world."
Instead, the movie opened in the States two weeks ago - yep, it has already been out for a while in parts of the world, further developing the 'How have we never heard of this??' scenario - where it made just $2.4 million in its opening weekend. For comparison, elderly lady comedy Book Club: The Next Chapter opened the same weekend, and made $6.7 million in the same amount of time.
At the time of writing, the movie has made just $4.4 million worldwide, against a reported production budget of $65 million. Including promotional and advertising spend, the movie needs to make over $120 million to get out of the red. That... simply won't be happening, so we're already looking at Hypnotic being one of - if not THE - biggest flop of 2023. What happened here??
Well, to begin with, it isn't very good. It currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 37%, but bad reviews alone have never been enough to tank a film's chances at financial success... just like at the entire Transformers franchise.
Admittedly, the project does feel like it was dropped in from the 00s, when we were getting movies like Denzel Washington in Deja Vu, or Ewan McGregor in The Island, or Will Smith in I Robot... big dumb movies that were glossed over with a sheen of intelligence merely by a having a little bit of sci-fi in them. None of those movies were necessarily great, but they have their defenders because they can probably be fairly described as fun.
Hypnotic starts off pretty fun, with Affleck hunting down a mysterious man (William Fichtner, the only person who knows what kind of movie he's in) who is using hypnosis to pull off elaborate bank heists, and then cause absolute chaos as a cover for his getaway. But the script can't help leave well enough alone, and starts plonking plot twists on top of plot twists. It wants you to think you can't trust anything you're seeing (oooooooh!), but instead, it instills a total lack of importance in literally anything we're watching.
What else didn't help is that the very first trailer didn't land until about a month ago. Keeping up a mystique for some movies can be a stroke of genius - and sometimes it can work out great, and sometimes not so great - but in this case, it felt more like the folks behind it knew that might have a dud on their hands. It would also explain why they'd throw it out into cinemas with little warning, one week after GOTG3 and one week before Fast X, which would be hovering up all of the money from action fans on either side.
We'll need to wait until the end of December to see where this movie lands on the actual final list of biggest flops of the year, but it is going to take another perfect storm of bad circumstances for anything to come close.
Hypnotic arrives in Irish cinemas on Friday 26 May.
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