Warning: this article contains major spoilers for Hypnotic (2023).
Not everything is as it seems to be in Hypnotic.
That’s clear from the moment the film begins, but not many viewers will likely be able to predict just how many layers are actually hidden beneath the surface of Hypnotic’s story. While a majority of the film’s first act plays out like a fairly straightforward detective thriller with a sci-fi twist, the cracks in Hypnotic’s façade start to appear the moment that Danny Rourke (Air‘s Ben Affleck) discovers he has the same kind of powers as both Diana Cruz (Alice Braga) and Dellrayne (William Fichtner), the mysterious man he’s become obsessed with tracking down and catching.
In the minutes that follow, Danny and Diana not only sleep together, but he realizes that she is, in fact, his wife. In case that wasn’t enough, Danny also deduces that his missing daughter, Minnie (Hala Finley), is actually his and Diana’s daughter. She wasn’t kidnapped, either. Instead, Danny realizes that he secretly hid Minnie away so that the government-sanctioned division of hypnotics that both he and Diana are members of wouldn’t be able to take her away and train her to use her formidable psychic powers for evil purposes. Danny discovers all of this while also realizing, much to his dismay, that nothing that happened in the first two-thirds of Hypnotic was actually real.
It’s revealed at the end of Hypnotic’s second act that the events of the film were all part of a construct to trick Danny into revealing Minnie’s secret location to the bad guys. Viewers learn that Diana, Dellrayne, and J.D. Pardo’s Nicks are all members of the same division and that they, along with the rest of the faction’s members, came together to put on a Hollywood-esque production that would make Danny buy into his fake reality. Affleck’s Danny is also told by Fichtner’s Dellrayne, who is actually the division’s director, that they’ve already run him through the same simulation 12 times.
Unfortunately for them, when they try to reset Danny’s mind and make him relive the simulation again, he ultimately manages to break free. With the division hot on his trail, Danny tracks down his foster parents on their remote farm and reunites with his daughter, Minnie, for the first time in four years. Moments later, when the division attempts to take Minnie by force, she and her father combine their hypnotic powers to wipe out nearly all of their pursuers. At the same time, Danny and Minnie reveal to Diana that she is not, in fact, an actively evil member of Hypnotic’s nefarious division.
Minnie unlocks Diana’s psychic block so that she remembers how she and Danny conspired together to reset their own memories years prior so that the division wouldn’t be able to use them to find Minnie. In the wake of this revelation, Diana embraces her husband and daughter and the happy family subsequently walks off into the sunset together.
In a mid-credits scene, it’s revealed that Fichtner’s division director, who viewers previously saw shoot himself in the chest at Minnie’s mental behest, is not actually dead. Instead, viewers learn that the villainous hypnotic used a mental construct of his own to trick Minnie into believing he was someone else — namely, Danny’s foster father. Hypnotic then cuts to black for the last time on the image of Fichtner’s director walking away from the site of the film’s final battle with fiery vengeance in his eyes.
Hypnotic, in other words, purposefully sets the stage for a sequel. Whether or not another film ever comes to fruition remains to be seen. Odds are, the potential sequel’s fate will likely rest entirely on how well viewers receive Hypnotic‘s mind-bending, twisty third act. While opinions about the film will undoubtedly vary from viewer to viewer, too, the one thing that no one can say about Hypnotic is that it’s afraid to take risks. It may very well end up being one of the year’s most ambitious genre films, for better or worse.
Hypnotic is now playing in theaters.