It could be said that director Robert Rodriguez is a bit on an acquired taste. Having said that, I think the first thing I should lay out about this movie is that one probably shouldn't be on the lookout for a solid Ben Affleck movie so much as a decent Rodriguez movie. If you want a good Affleck movie, hit rewind just a little bit and check out this year's 'Air' (now streaming on Prime). Otherwise, even as a Rodriguez film, we don't entirely get the epic, Grindhouse-like fun here we do with most of his films either.
We follow Austin PD detective, Danny Rourke (Affleck), who we learn from the get-go has a missing daughter, Minnie (Ionie Olivia Nieves) 7 years old at the time of her abduction. This leads to his marriage eventually falling apart; thus, we have our fairly typical brooding movie cop. He's picked up from his therapist by his partner, Nicks (JD Pardo), who has received an anonymous tip about a bank robbery, which leads them to seeing a mysterious man (William Fichtner) seemingly giving random people odd orders, and these random people carry out said orders. Danny eventually connects this with the possibility that it could have something to do with his missing daughter, so investigates further.
His investigation soon leads him to fortuneteller Diana Cruz (Alice Braga), whom the mysterious man seems to have been a client of. She reveals that his name is Lev Dellrayne and that he and Cruz are actually powerful hypnotics who have managed to escape a government division specializing in mind control. This is obviously something we've seen a bunch of times before in some way shape or form - the escaped "superpower" people. Perhaps the most recent and best example is Eleven from 'Stranger Things', but odds are, my readers have seen something along these lines before.
Anyway, it's not long before all the puzzle pieces start falling into place, and to some degree, the whole thing becomes fairly predictable. Although I will say that it takes a couple of interesting turns here and there, in the end, nothing really catches you off-guard or surprises you as things go. The film even brings the superhero (or at least superpower) element into it all, adding once again to a piling list of things to add to people's exhaustion. Granted, I'm generally not one of these people. But I can't say it's not blatantly obvious that the superhero thing has sincerely taken things over, and even I'm getting a tiny bit tired, especially when it comes from examples like this.
Not only does this play with that superpower element, but it also feels like it takes from many different things. I've already mentioned 'Stranger Things', as far as the corporation trying to create super-humans goes. But then the movie also plays with the idea of the lead having memory problems, the mistaken identity, etc... you know, that whole 'Bourne Identity' concept, at least to some degree. It's another one of these dark mysteries that has a better version of it, or at least, something like it, to watch somewhere else. Having said that, I didn't hate the movie. I just think it would have done better to come straight to streaming because it's nothing special.
So, just in case you're sitting there reading this, asking yourself "What even is this movie?" this is thanks to a complete and total lack of advertising for it. I was only really interested because of Rodriguez's name being attached to it, and I wondered how he'd handle something like this. Not something I was psyched for, but mildly curious for. Also, it opened alongside 'Book Club 2', and that one's just not in my wheelhouse. But if you can believe it, this was actually the worst opening weekend of both Rodriquez and Affleck's careers, being a fairly considerable bomb, coming in at #6, opening weekend. So, if you're still curious about it, it'll likely be streaming soon enough, somewhere.
I'm gonna go ahead and say that this is the first mildly bad movie I've seen this year if only because so much of it was me going "Oh, we're doing this again?" Even still, I'm not gonna sit here hating on it. It was just too familiar to me is all. If you're into this kind of thing, it might be fun to check out on a lazy Sunday afternoon on some free (or perhaps not-so-free) streaming platform. But I would say that Rodriguez fans might come out of it more disappointed than some. Again, this is a completely different style for the guy. But as far as Affleck goes, 'Air' is still the title to watch this year. (so far... expect a review sooner or later!)