There’s a new Ben Affleck movie out this week, and chances are you probably don’t know about it. No, not the Nike drama Air, which made its debut on Prime Video recently. And no, he doesn’t cameo in his wife Jennifer Lopez’s new movie The Mother on Netflix.
I’m talking about Hypnotic, the new psychological thriller from director Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Machete), where Affleck plays a detective named Rourke searching for his lost daughter while also hunting down a master criminal who is able to hypnotize people to do his bidding.
If you didn’t know about it, you’re not alone. The movie opened at just over 2,000 theaters, with career-worst box office openings for both Affleck and Rodriguez. But we’re here to talk about the post-credits sequence, something that is still boggling my mind a few days later.
[Ed. note: Significant spoilers for Hypnotic follow.]
In Hypnotic, “hypnotics” can control other people’s actions by manipulating their sense of the world, through eye contact or a series of simple voice commands. At first, this is shown through William Fichtner’s character, who robs a bank in one of the movie’s first sequences.
A little more than halfway through the movie, it is revealed that Ben Affleck’s character is actually a powerful hypnotic who arranged for the kidnapping of his daughter and wiped his own memory, all for her protection. As the daughter of two powerful hypnotics, she is desired as a weapon by the government division tasked with hypnotics (inspiringly named “The Division”), and Rourke will go to extreme lengths to prevent her from being used in that manner. Unless he’s doing it, that is.
In the movie’s final act, Rourke, after regaining his memory, tracks down his daughter Minnie (Hala Finley) at a ranch where he had hidden her. He then sets up a trap for Fichtner’s character (now known as “The Director”) and the rest of The Division, leading to a slaughter where we see the teenage Minnie hypnotize dozens of people into brutally murdering each other, including overpowering The Director himself, before the reunited family hugs it out. It’s a bizarre end for a movie built around the idea of not making young Minnie a weapon, and then it gets even more bizarre.
In the mid-credits sequence, however, Affleck’s foster father Carl (Jeff Fahey), who seemed to be gunning down agents of The Division to protect his granddaughter, is revealed to have been Fichtner. Hypnotics have the power to disguise themselves in the minds of other people, and it seems The Director was disguising himself as Carl in case things went south. The last bit of this reveal is The Director looking at the corpse that appears to be his own, dropping the hypnotic connection and revealing that it was Carl that died in the fighting.
This is bizarre for a few reasons. First of all, it means that if you watch Hypnotic and leave when the credits start, you exit believing good has triumphed. If you leave after the credits, you do so with the knowledge that evil has won out. Which is a pretty drastically different ending. But more importantly, it means the entire back third of the movie just didn’t happen (or at least in the way audiences saw it), and you don’t find that out unless you stay for the credits.
The whole basis for The Division trying to capture Minnie in the first place is the idea that she’s the most powerful hypnotic around, thanks to basic genetics. She’s even powerful enough, we’re told, to bend The Director to her will. But with the post-credits reveal, it turns out none of that is actually true. The Director was more powerful than Minnie the whole time, and we’re left wondering why any of this mattered in the first place. It’s a baffling choice for one of the most bizarre movies of the year.