In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for Hypnotic, we talk about themes that help us understand the film.
- Danny Rourke – Ben Affleck
- Diana Cruz / Vivian – Alice Braga
- Minnie – Hala Finley
- Dellrayne – William Fichtner
- Nicks – J.D. Pardo
- River – Dayo Okeniyi
- Carl – Jeff Fahey
- Jeremiah – Jackie Earle Haley
- Written by – Robert Rodriguez | Max Borenstein
- Directed by – Robert Rodriguez
The themes and meaning of Hypnotic
Questioning the nature of your reality
Throughout Hypnotic, nothing is ever really as it seems. The first 75% of the movie is actually a simulation designed to get Danny Rourke to reveal the location of his daughter to the Division. Everything we see, everything we’re told, is either an outright lie or a slant on the truth. This is possible because of the powers of the Hypnotics trained by the Division. They create elaborate mental constructs that change the way people see the world.
The main journey for Danny isn’t getting his daughter back so much as deconstructing the veil placed over his perception. Who he is, what he is, who and what everyone else is. His missing daughter is more of a MacGuffin that drives Danny’s rebellion against his reality. Each layer he peels back brings him closer to her. And he only reunites with her once the illusion’s come crashing down.
Individualism over government
For most of Hypnotic, Danny is under the control of the United States government. Specifically, the Division. Everything he sees and gets to do is curated by them. He believes he’s in control but he’s not. Not even a little bit. That is, until Danny questions the nature of his reality and reclaims his individuality. Once he does that, the dynamic reverses. He’s the one in control, with the power, not Dellrayne and the Division. We even have the showdown where the government attempts to come onto private property, the ranch belonging to Danny’s foster parents. And the individual citizens not only square off with these representatives of the government, but defeat them.
For anyone skeptical of big government and government overreach and the rights of the individual—Hypnotic is a nightmare that slowly turns into an empowering, heroic daydream.
Despite the victory of the division, a mid-credits scene reveals that Dellrayne used his hypnotic powers to appear as Carl. Carl is actually dead. That means the Division hasn’t been eradicated. Which means the representative of big government lives. Which means big government lives. Thematically, this brings us back to questioning reality and individualism. As long as the Division exists, Danny has to worry about someone hijacking his reality and individuality. That turns Hypnotic into a cautionary tale that’s essentially saying that as long as government exists, people need to stay vigilant. Even if you win. Even if you feel you have the advantage. Keep one eye open.
When the Division has control over Danny, Danny doesn’t have his family. His daughter is missing. His wife is working for the enemy. This is, in some ways, by design. As we come to realize this has all been part of the plan Danny and Diana came up with to protect Minnie from the Division. They break up their family temporarily to stop the Division or let the Division do it and separate them forever, as Minnie would be their weapon rather than Danny and Diana’s daughter. It’s right there in the name; this group will literally divide the family.
Of course, Danny only gets the upper hand once he reunites with his daughter and they unlock Diana’s memories. The end of this family’s division marks the end of the Division. So there’s a lot of importance placed on unity/solidarity in standing up against the government. Even though individualism is important, so too is having others to fight for.
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