Starring: Ben Affleck, Alice Braga, JD Pardo, William Fichtner, Dayo Okeniyi, Jeff Fahey, Jackie Earle Haley, Hala Finley, Ionia Olivia Nieves
Distributor: Roadshow Films
Runtime: 92 mins. Reviewed in May 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
A policeman’s daughter is abducted. He investigates, is led into a mysterious world of science fiction and political conspiracies.
This thriller opens with Ben Affleck squared-jawed, granite-jawed, as a local cop in Austin, Texas whose daughter has been abducted. He is desperate to find her. Lately, Ben Affleck has been has had great successes on screen, emerging as a talented director, and appearing in Air, Argo . . . Behind the camera is significant director, Rodriguez who also writes and edits his films, and always, for the past 30 years, making them in his home city of Austin.
We follow Affleck’s officer Danny Rourke in action, as he is tipped off about a bank robbery to happen. Rourke defies advice, endangering himself and others, but is then confronted by a stranger, who has the eye-contact capacity to control people and act destructively. He is a hypnotic and is played in the sinister form of William Fichtner.
A settling into the familiar territory of robberies, police investigations and pursuits. Further clues, however, lead to a tarot card reader, Diana (Braga), who explains to Rourke – and to us the audience – that there are, from birth, powerful hypnotics with dominant control. So far, so interesting as a police thriller in the police thriller vein.
At this stage we might be tempted to Google and find out whether such a phenomenon as a hypnotic is real. (And, coming home from the cinema, this reviewer did Google only to find that the reference to hypnotics is to drugs used to control sleep, sedatives.)
But then, Rourke and Diana escape to Mexico, she using her hypnotic skills to get them through borders, out of dangerous confrontations, controlling all who meet her eye. But we also travel into the realm of science-fiction, scientific experimentation, and political repercussions. Many characters are not what they seem. Reality is not what it seems.
So the latter part of Hypnotic takes us into the world of memory, loss of memory, alternate reality, constructed reality, to discover who Diana is or might be, who Danny Rourke really is and why he is trying to track down his abducted daughter – and who she is. There is resolution at the end, a blend of killings as well as happy family.
But, Rodriguez tantalises us with his plot. And we have to pay attention during the final credits. Hypnotic 2 is not an impossibility.
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