(director/writer: Robert Rodriquez; screenwriters: Max Borenstein/story by Rodriquez; cinematographers: Pablo Berron/Robert Rodriquez; editor: Robert Rodriquez; music: Rebel Rodriquez; cast: Ben Affleck (Danny Rourke), Alice Braga (Diana Cruz), J.D. Pardo (Nicks), Jeff Fahey (Carl), Jack Earle Haley (), Dayo Okeniyi (River), Nikki Dixon (Therapist), Hala Finney (Minnie at 10), Ionie Nieves (Minnie at 5), William Fichtner (Dellrayne); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jeff Robinov/Robert Rodriquez/Guy Botham/John Graham/Mark Gill/Lisa Elizey/Racer Max; Ketchup Entertainment; 2023)

“A trashy action pic with lots of twists.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A trashy action pic with lots of twists, directed by Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriquez (“Spy Kids”/”The Limit”) and co-written by him and Max Borenstein from a story written by Rodriquez.

Danny Rourke (
Ben Affleck) is a detective in Austin, Texas, whose young daughter Minnie (Ionie Nieves at 5/Hala Finney at 10), was kidnapped several years ago and he assumes has probably been killed. But things change when he stops a bank robbery during a stakeout that had the armored guards hypnotized to rob a safety deposit box by Dellrayne (William Fichtner), who stood outside. When arrested, he has taken from the safety box a photo of Rourke’s daughter that has a cryptic message attached. This discovery leads Rourke to think his daughter might still be alive and investigates this with his partner (J.D. Pardo).

The troubled cop, seeing a therapist Nikki Dixon), is helped by the psychic Diana Cruz (Alice Braga). She suspects that these Hypnotics, a group that Dellrayne is the leader of, can reshape the mind. Thereby Rourke pursues the investigation, and becomes a target of the bad guys who hypnotize him and his partner. But he’s immune from that, while his partner is not.

The film in its ambition to reach the heights of the Christopher Nolan classic Memento, has Rourke in Mexico with the psychic helper, as the streets
start to curve and sway because of the tricks by the Hypnotics.

The film proceeds in a convoluted way from hereon, unable to fulfill the filmmaker’s vision for it. And, it concludes in a puzzling and unfulfilled way that turned me off to any good it laid on us before it imploded. The best I can say about this goofy film is that it was never dull even if it never made much sense.