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Hypnotic is a solid B movie aspiring to be Christopher Nolan’s A-movie Memento or Inception with a whiff of Matrix. While it may play on notions of memory and hypnosis (see the title), it doesn’t reach the nuances of Nolan’s work. Yet it amuses and hints at the dangers lack of memory can cause.

For early summer and Ben Affleck in his prime (see Air), it’s a safe bet for an evening that may cause you and your companions to philosophically speculate on its allegorical properties (social media mind bending, anyone?).

Danny Rourke (a perpetually glum Affleck) grieves to find his abducted daughter, Minnie (Hala Finley and Ionie Olivia Nieves), but has been searching for her for 4 years, even after arresting the kidnapper. You see, kidnapper doesn’t remember a damn thing, and lo and behold more characters don’t remember things either. It begins to sound like Hitchcock’s Vertigo, whose re-release director Robert Rodriguez claims inspired him.

Something has a hold on their minds, a weapon far worse than guns and bombs. With the help of Detective Diana Cruz (Alice Braga), Rourke tracks from the heist to the master mind to get at the hypnosis generator. Along the way, a Hitchcock MacGuffin called Domino fades while our hero experiences a surprising facet of the titular weapon.

Although this is in no way a superhero film, it resembles one thematically with the emphasis on finding a daughter and making family whole again. That theme is more satisfactory than gaining riches or beating the hell out of bad guys.

The ending is sentimental to a fault, and the mid-credits sequence promises more of the same with a possible sequel. Summer fare could be worse, so relax in a comfy modern theater with your best bud and howl at the screen.

Hypnotic is an energetic B movie with a fleeting moment when Ben smiles. Now, that’s entertainment!

Director: Robert Rodriguez (Machete, Sin City)

Screenplay: Rodriguez, Max Borenstein (Godzilla vs. Kong)

Cast: Ben Affleck (Argo). Alice Braga (City of God, I Am Legend))

Run Time: 1h 32m

Rating: R

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and hosts Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take out of WCBE 90.5 FM. Contact him at

John DeSando holds a BA from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in English from The University of Arizona. He served several universities as a professor, dean, and academic vice president. He has been producing and broadcasting as a film critic on It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics for more than two decades. DeSando received the Los Angeles Press Club's first-place honors for national entertainment journalism.