Hypnotic Movie Unpacked and Discussed

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Let me get this off my chest. After just coming from watching Hypnotic with Ben Affleck, I have to say, the first 30 minutes are terrible. Wooden. Annoying. The screenplay is horrible. The dialog is poorly chosen and would befit not even a C-rated, straight to Blockbuster on VHS film, just canned, tinny and annoying. After the reveals start to kick in, there is something to watch… something to draw the viewer’s attention. By that I mean, just away from the continuing horrible dialog and bad writing that so obviously steals from the movie Inception that they don’t even try to hide it. But after the movie starts rabbit-holing more, and actually latches on to its premise, it’s actually pretty decent. But we’ll get into that in a moment.

Let’s dive into it, shall we?

Hypnotic Movie Walkthrough:

Introduction: Detective Danny Rourke (? come on.) unwittingly stumbles into a deep mystery of heists and bank robberies that might ultimately threaten the very nature of REALITY. <gasp>. I know right? Anyway, we quickly learn that the uninspiredly named, Detective Rourke, has had his daughter abducted. He’s still dealing with the trauma of the event, and has only just been cleared to go back out into the field. Now… of this you can be certain, not everything here is as it seems. Right? So, expect to double back on these foundational elements soon enough.

After being cleared back into the field, Danny-boy gets a hold of an anonymous tip that points him to an ongoing investigation regarding a number of safety deposit boxes that have been stolen in the past few weeks. Specifically, safety deposit box 23. Danny sets up his teams to watch the bank, and see if he can spot anything untoward happening… you know… men in ski masks? That sort of shenanigan. And sure enough, during the stakeout, Rourke and his partner Nicks, observe a mysterious man who appears to exert some sort of inexplicable control over the people around him. Chaos ensues, and the detective runs into the bank and somehow gets to the safety deposit box first. (To its credit, this inexplicable action is explicated later.) Inside the box, is a photo of his daughter, Minnie, with a cryptic message urging him to find a man named Lev Dellrayne. Determined to connect the heist to his daughter’s vanishing, Rourke embarks on a personal investigation.

The anonymous tip to the bank heist, it turns out, was from a fortune teller named Diana Cruz (Hint… she’s not a fortune teller). While trying to learn more from her, Danny gets attacked by a customer of hers… a biker on a chopper who drives through the front door and then commits suicide to keep from giving up more information. Danny takes Cruz to the station and learns that Lev Dellrayne (the man’s name that was on the photograph in the safety deposit box) and she were both escaped Hypnotics. Hypnotics are individuals that were trained by an undercover government program entitled the Division. Hypnotics are able to control other people’s minds. And, come to find out, Danny is incredibly immune to the commands of other hypnotics. Huh. Is Danny special somehow? Well, when Dellrayne appears at the jail, he commands Nicks, Danny’s partner to attack Danny… but it ends up with Nicks dead, and Danny and Cruz on the run to Mexico.

While in Mexico, Danny and Cruz look for the assistance of another Division member, Jeremiah. Through that touch point, the duo find out that Dellrayne is hunting down something called “Domino.” A stolen weapon with incredible powers that he has lost control over and wants back. But, come to find out, Jeremiah is ACTUALLY Dellrayne in a mental/hypnotic disguise. Danny and Cruz run again, through a crazy labyrinth, twists, turns, chaos… until Danny taps into his unknown Hypnotic powers… which, assists them in getting away from Dellrayne.

Now, Danny and Cruz are at their wits end of what they are going to do to get away from this guy that seems to be out maneuvering them at every turn. Turning to a reclusive hacker who knows the Division inside and out, they discover that Minnie is actually the lost weapon… Minnie, Danny’s daughter, is Domino. Danny also discovers that he and his wife, Vivian, were powerful Hypnotists, and that they raised Minnie as a powerful weapon with the Division’s help. Oh, and one last glitch? Remember Cruz, the fortune teller? She’s actually Vivian… Danny’s wife. Huh.

Danny has also realized that, in an effort to protect his daughter, and his wife, his whole family, from the Division, he decided he would need to steal Minnie away into hiding, and then wipe their memories in order to keep her safe. Ah. I see. And in order to try to manipulate the truth out of Danny, the Division has actually been building complex, constructed, scenarios to get him to remember where she has been hidden. And Vivian has been central in attempting to extract these memories from Danny’s head. Trapped there in these false reality mouse-mazes, Danny has been running these scenarios over and over again as The Division is attempting to break him.

You do not want Minnie to look at you this way apparently….

In a scene straight out of the section of Inception in India, we watch as Danny escapes from the rat maze, and flees from the mindjobbery. Heading to get Minnie, and save her, he follows the clue “Find Lev Dellrayne” and finally finds the ranch at Deer Valley where his foster parents have had Minnie squirreled away. There at the ranch, Danny is reunited with Minnie, who has her powers fully under her control now. Breaking up their happy reunion, the Division agents arrive and surround them. Minnie unlocks her mother’s memories and causes the agents to start killing each other. As the movie ends, we flash backward to watch as Minnie’s skills as a master Hypnotist lay waste to the Division’s men and ultimately Dellrayne as well.

“The Hypnotic Chronicles” concludes with Minnie, Rourke, Vivian, and their foster parents embracing their newfound liberation, having triumphed over a secretive and manipulative organization. This captivating tale explores the strength of family bonds, the resilience of the human spirit, and the power of love in the face of unimaginable challenges.

Thoughts on Hypnotic

To say that I DESPISED the beginning of this movie is a drastic understatement. Wow, I thought the opening was stupid. It wasn’t just that it was a bad Inception knock off, it was a bad B-movie knock off. All your stereotypes were here. The detective dealing with his loss of his abducted daughter. The cheesy connections, leads, and silly discovery that leads to another discovery that leads to more weirdness. It was stupid.

But the moment the movie uncovered that The Division and his wife Vivian had Danny, and that they were manipulating him in order to find the truth out about his daughter, I started to get interested again. The screenplay started to show some signs of cleverness and life. And, sure enough, when it turned out that it was Danny that had wiped Vivian’s and his own memories (which never was explained how he pulled that off for himself), things started to get even more interesting. At the end though – when it turned out that Domino, excuse me Minnie, was able to lay waste to everyone without much issue or hesitation, the film lost a real opportunity to take the movie to the next level.

Take a look at Nolan’s Inception. When Cobb’s team drops three (or four, depending on your heuristic understanding of Mal) layers down, and everything goes pair shape… he and Ariadne fall to Limbo as their last chance gambit. Right? The mission is over. They are all going to die down there. But okay, sure, we’ll watch as you take this last lottery ticket chance for salvation. But while down there Sato “dies” – and Cobb has to go even deeper still in order to retrieve the one man that can make the phone call to keep him from going to jail. It was really bad… now it’s humorously impossible. Cobb has to crash on the shores of Sato’s consciousness and see if he can convince him to come back up to the surface. Basically an inception (which was impossible already) inside an inception (are you kidding me?)

Nolan set up the rules of Inception so perfectly… and then he broke them all. Visiting someone’s dreams are really hard… but you know what? Going into a dream within a dream?? Now that is SUPER hard. Wait, you know what? We want to do a dream, within a dream, within a dream. That’s the only way. Did I say three? Because I meant 5. Yeah, 5 deep is what we are going to be doing to pull this off. But with this movie? The rules were not made clear in advance, so it could never really establish just how exceptional this experience was.

Worse – the movie just was so cliché it was hard to stomach the first 25 minutes. A cop. Missing daughter. And Ben Affleck couldn’t even ATTEMPT to play the part of grieving father. He was just way too cool for school. Literally the only moment he did well with in this entire movie was at the end when he stands there proudly as his daughter torches everyone.

Reminds me of the OVERLY clever movie with Anne Heche and Matthew McConaughey entitled Serenity? Remember that one? Basically the movie is intentionally cheesy because of the reveal. I won’t spoil it here. But it’s in line with the deeper theme of what is going on in the movie. However no one could get over the cheesiness to get to the reason for it. Right? This could be the excuse here too. Maybe. But here’s the thing. The screenplay author has to avoid clichés and lame overly played tropes both after the reveal and before. You don’t get a pass because you have something cool coming. I’m sorry. That’s just not how it works.

Final Thoughts on Hypnotic

I would like for someone like Stuart Hazeldine (the Exam), Travis Milloy (Infinity Chamber), Jamin Winans (Ink), or any of a dozen other cool indie filmmakers, take a crack at this movie. Instead of remakes that increase budget and Hollywood “fire power,” I say we decrease the budget, the actors, the special effects. I’m betting that Trevor Peckham (Discontinued) would totally turn this movie inside out for the better. He’d find a great unknown actress (probably should be a female lead) like he did with Ashley Hutchinson, give it a really great rewrite… and make this something really worth watching. But until then, I gotta say that this was just another Hollywood racehorse committee that ended up making a camel.

Edited by: CY