If you made it to the end of Robert Rodriguez’s genre-blending (apparently) action thriller that hitched a ride with the elementary sci-fi elements just to get where it aimed to go, you were likely only in it for the wicked thrill. I, for one, genuinely look forward to satirizing supposedly serious movies where the makers and the cast seem to be in on the joke. You can’t tell me that Ben Affleck didn’t have a hard time keeping a straight face when he was delivering the most unnecessary, overly explanatory monologue about the deliberately predictable turn of events. And yet, amusingly enough, Hypnotic isn’t without labyrinthine twists and turns that, in all probability, had you racking your brain there for a second. After all, a film about people who can bend reality in the blink of an eye can’t be without its expected, maze-like course of events. Rest assured; I’ll do my best to pull you out of any hypnotic construct that you may still be stuck in. So let’s get on with it.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Hypnotic’?
Detective Danny Rourke might as well have been a mirror-image of Jake Gyllenhaal in The Guilty. Who he is, for now at least, is not as consequential as what he has been through. His work, as well as his marriage, have come to a halt since, three years ago, a random young guy kidnapped his little daughter Minnie. Minnie was never seen or heard from again. And seeing as his marriage isn’t something that he can fix, Danny would rather get back on track with his work and do what he does best. An anonymous tip alerting the Austin PD of an imminent bank robbery coincides with Danny’s therapist approving the resumption of his work as a detective. The only hiccup that occurs as Danny keeps an eye on a strange guy from the stake-out van is that the guy seems to be manipulating random people’s actions with mere words and gestures. Danny wouldn’t be central to the story of Hypnotic if he were a run-of-the-mill rule follower. So you bet that he goes rogue and walks into the bank, only to see the havoc the odd guy has wreaked. But there’s one thing that Danny does have a say in. And that is the menacing assailant’s shot at getting his hands on the contents of the box he came to steal in the first place. When Danny finds a picture of Minnie with “Find Lev Dellrayne” written on it, his immediate conclusion is that Dellrayne knows something about his daughter’s kidnapping. Like a dog with a bone, Danny chases the peculiar serial bank robber, and the deeper he goes down the rabbit hole, the more convoluted the case seems to get.
What Is The Division?
The one aspect of intrigue that Hypnotic does handle delicately is introducing random characters who turn out to be consequential pieces of the puzzle Danny is attempting to solve. One of these characters is Diana, a tuppenny psychic who happens to be the anonymous caller with a strange connection to Dellrayne. After evading getting crushed by a motorcycle courtesy of Dellrayne, Diana follows the path that fate has laid out for her and joins Danny in his search for Dellrayne and Minnie. Hypnotic puppeteers Diana as the marionette who’s supposed to turn over each stone, uncovering a crucial detail of the mystery. It is through her that Danny is made aware of the existence of people with special abilities to temporarily reshape a person’s reality, and Dellrayne and Diana happen to possess this very power. Of course, Diana’s prowess in grabbing hold of a person’s subconscious is nowhere close to that of Dellrayne. And if seeing his partner Nick get his head blown off right before his eyes isn’t daunting enough for Danny, he’s also burdened with the knowledge of a covert operation run by the US government. The Division trains people like Diana and Dellrayne and aims to put their special abilities to use.
What Is Project Domino?
The only relief that Danny has in this entire ordeal is knowing that his grief has put up a wall against hypnotics. But the protective wall can crumble in a second when he’s faced with an expert hypnotist like Dellrayne. But what is Dellrayne after anyway? After a nightmarish chase involving warped realities and manipulated consciousness, Danny gets closer to understanding Dellrayne’s ulterior goal. The Division had devised something called the Domino to get a handle on the rogue hypnotics. Dellrayne not only nicked the Domino but also reset his consciousness to erase his memory of where he’d stashed it. That way, even if he has a brush with the Division, they can’t get the location of the Domino out of him. But he didn’t just go ahead and erase his memory without leaving behind breadcrumbs that could later help him retrace his own steps. The multiple bank robberies in Austin, Texas, were Dellrayne’s method of connecting the dots and reaching the coveted Domino. Now that one of the puzzle pieces, i.e., the picture of Minnie, is with Danny, Dellrayne’s faced with a massive gap in the map that is meant to lead him to the Domino.
Is Any Of This Even Real?
You may have thought that so far, Hypnotic has been focusing solely on the chase instead of trying to make sense of the moving pieces that don’t seem to fit right. For instance, why did they just assume that Minnie was dead? Why wasn’t her mother, Vivian, ever contacted by Danny when the whole thing was going down? Why was it that the Austin PD gave up so quickly when Danny’s trail went cold? Fear not. The film does quite a thorough job of throwing light on the truth. You first get the ick when you see Danny throwing caution to the wind and giving into the tension that’s been a constant in his dynamic with Diana. The truth about Diana is just a click away from Danny when the goldmine of information is right there in the Division’s database in River’s secret bunker. It takes just a whiff of reality for Danny to realize that everything he’s been going through for the past few days has been an illusion. Bear in mind that Danny’s once shown the sign of being hypnotized himself. It’s not just that he’s not a detective; the entire narrative we’ve been subjected to so far has been a lie. Danny’s hypnotic, just like Diana and Dellrayne. And there’s no Vivian. Diana Cruz is Danny’s wife, and Minnie is their child. The truth of the matter is that Diana and Danny were two hypnotists being trained at the Division, which, as it turns out, is run by none other than Dellrayne. Project Domino is not a project, after all. “Domino” is short for “Dominique,” i.e., the supremely powerful hypnotic child that Diana and Danny had. To save her from being a pawn in the destructive hands of the Division, Danny stashed her away and erased his own memory. To manipulate him into accessing what he’s forgotten and leading them to Minnie, the Division, including Diana, has been putting him through elaborate illusions, and the next go they’re going to have at it will be his 13th time.
‘Hypnotic’ Ending Explained: Are Danny And His Family Safe?
This is far from the first time the US Government’s covert operations have been the underlying disease eating away at the protagonist’s well-being in a film. And like most of the films in this sub-genre, Hypnotic‘s conflict is with how the government exploits people and wouldn’t think twice before jumping at the chance of puppeteering the whole nation. Instead of letting a kid be a kid and have a normal life, the Division’s agenda has been to utilize Minnie’s exceptional powers and mold her into a weapon they can use against the very people of America. It’s this very concept of weaponized powers that hypnotists like Danny have been fighting against. He didn’t mind sacrificing his own well-being and wasting his years being manipulated by the Division if it meant that he could keep his daughter safe.
Underneath all the convoluted chaos, he’s just a dad looking out for his little daughter and giving it his all so that she can have a shot at a normal childhood. So he doesn’t mind being subjected to the same torment for the 13th time, fully aware that the Division will keep at it until they can locate Minnie and bring her in. But there’s one thing that’s different this time around: Away from even our eyes, Danny has hidden a little note that he’d written to remind himself of Minnie’s whereabouts. So, when we are watching the false narrative start another loop, Danny is secretly deciphering the content of the note. And when the time comes for him to walk into the false bank, he takes off in a golf cart, leaving behind the note that reads “Deer Valley Lane.” It takes the director (whom we’ve known as Lev Dellrayne so far) and the Division’s army only a second to conclude that the name “Lev Dellrayne” isn’t actually a name. It’s an anagram of Deer Valley Lane that Danny came up with to hide Minnie’s location in plain sight. The fleet of jets following him has already figured out that Deer Valley Lane is where Danny’s foster parents live. By the time Danny is done alerting his shotgun-wielding foster parents and having a long-awaited tear-soaked reunion with his daughter, the Division is already at their doorstep.
Little Minnie, however, is not so little anymore. And she’s certainly not one to be messed with. It’s with her help that Diana’s eyes are opened to the truth. She wasn’t always a ruthless mouthpiece for the Division’s vile agenda. In fact, Danny and Diana both played a part in hiding Minnie so that she wouldn’t become a superhuman weapon controlled by the Division. But unlike Danny, who’d also erased his memories to keep Minnie safe, Diana’s mind being reset was followed by her putting on an act of being on the Division’s side. And to keep her act authentic and leave no room for error, Diana was made to believe that she actually sided with the Division. While Minnie was born powerful, she needed time to reach her full potential without interruption. And now, in all her incomparable hypnotic glory, Minnie has designed this entire illusion to lure in the director and the Division’s choicest army. It takes a while until the director realizes that whatever they’re seeing isn’t true. The house, the land, and even Danny’s foster parents are parts of the illusion that Minnie has concocted. And now that the whole team is at her mercy, Minnie doesn’t waver in her determination to end them all.
Hypnotic‘s ending sequence is a bloodbath, erasing all traces of the evil organization that would’ve never stopped going after Minnie. With the Division eradicated, there’s nothing standing in the way of Danny, Minnie, and Diana starting off a new life where they can dedicate their powers toward making the world a better place. All that Danny and Diana have been through, which includes the excruciating pain of being estranged from their little girl, seems to be worth it when they see that Minnie is growing up to be a wonderful person who’d never use her powers to inflict pain on innocent people. But contrary to what they believe, the Division is far from gone.
As Hypnotic‘s mid-credit scene suggests, the director isn’t dead after all. What Danny and his family thought was a one-way illusion was, in truth, a battle between two extremely powerful hypnotics. While Minnie was occupied with maintaining the illusion that she’d created, she didn’t realize that the director wasn’t sitting idly. He had his own game going, where he made himself look like Danny’s foster father and projected his own image onto the real guy. So, when it looked like Danny’s foster father was killing the director, it was actually the other way around. The director’s being alive suggests that he will go on to form another team and won’t stop his hunt for Minnie. The only plausible development of this twist will likely be explored in the sequel, which will follow the Rourkes’ struggle to keep their daughter away from the maw of the indomitable monster.
Hypnotic is a 2023 mystery thriller film directed by Robert Rodriguez.