Directed By: Danny Boyle

Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, and Vincent Cassel

I rarely find myself in a guessing game while at the movies.  You've got to be a really great director to keep me on my toes wondering what's real and who's got what agenda.  There's no film in recent cinema history that does this better than Inception, but this doesn't mean that I shouldn't welcome worthy imitators.  Once again, I find myself in a guessing game of sorts while watching Danny Boyle's latest thriller Trance.

Simon (James McAvoy) works at an art gallery in the UK.  If he's learned anything, it's that art can be a very lucrative business.  That's why criminals with muscle and nerve would walk into auctions and steal precious works of art back in the old days.  That's also why art galleries evolved and developed more robust security measures.  Stronger security can't stop a smart, iron-willed criminal though, and Simon learns this firsthand when Rembrandt's world-famous "Storm on the Sea of Galilee" goes up for auction.

When the auction begins, a slippery gent by the name of Franck (Vincent Cassel) enters the building to steal this priceless Rembrandt painting.  Simon is tasked with retrieving and securing the painting, which is worth millions.  With a shotgun in hand, Franck prevents him from doing so.  What Simon fails to realize is that no work of art is worth a human life, and he tries to stop Franck.  This effort fails miserably, however.  Before getting away with the painting, Franck deals a heavy blow to Simon straight to his head.

When Franck takes a good look at his spoils, he finds that he has a frame with no painting.  Simon, a greedy man, took the art for himself and hid it somewhere.  It just so happens that Simon knows Franck and told him of the valuable Rembrandt painting in the first place to pay off a debt to him.  With the multimillion dollar painting not in his possession, Franck obsesses with getting his hands on it so that he can get the money he is owed and much, much more.  He needs Simon to tell him where it is.  The problem is that Franck hit Simon pretty hard in the head, and he now suffers from amnesia.  To help jog Simon's memory, Franck sends him to hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson).  Hopefully, she can put him in a trance and get him to spill the details on the Rembrandt painting.

Trance is an edgy, mysterious thriller that will keep you on your toes for the duration of the film.  With solid writing and great storytelling, director Danny Boyle deftly blends thrills, sensuality, gore, and comedy into one hypnotically entertaining movie.  Beyond Boyle's impressive work crafting the film, his cast is firing on all cylinders.  They each deliver some of their strongest work in the last several years.  All in all, Trance is some damn good entertainment any night of the week.

Danny Boyle has crafted a tense, winding thrill ride for which viewers will need a skeptical eye to perceive everything that's he’s really doing.  Trance is a thrill-a-minute film fueled by this raw, visceral energy that Boyle builds with sleek cinematography, colorful lighting, and electronic music with some deep, heavy bass.  With all of these cinematic devices, Boyle navigates between the real world and the hypnotic one seamlessly.  If you're not sharp during this one, you'll undoubtedly fall behind.  For my part, I was always a half-step behind Boyle trying to figure out what the hell each of his characters was scheming to do.

Trance is definitely a film filled with plenty of tense, bloody violence and undeniable sensuality, but there's more to the movie than that.  It's not just this heavy dark thriller.  There's plenty of comic relief throughout the film that lightens the atmosphere and makes Trance all the more entertaining.  With sharp, witty commentary from all three of our stars, there's no doubt you're going to laugh quite a bit, especially when Rosario Dawson's Elizabeth deals with the mundane problems of her other patients or when James McAvoy’s Simon has fun using the trigger word "strawberry" putting the fear of God in his hypnotized foes.  Boyle's incorporation of a healthy dose of comedy is what makes this movie so much more entertaining.

His cast doesn't disappoint either.  James McAvoy delivers a performance very akin to his work in Wanted five years ago, but in a much darker way.  McAvoy transitions his character from a wimpy loser to a menacing badass, and it's delightful to watch.  As hypnotherapist Elizabeth, Rosario Dawson is sexy, seductive, and secretive.  I don't know what her agenda is, but she gives a performance I won't forget anytime soon.  I could listen to her soothing voice all night long.  She is simply perfection in Trance.  For his part, Vincent Cassel is always enjoyable on the big screen.  He's equally vicious and hilarious.  He knows exactly what to say at the right moment and delivers one lovable criminal.

All in all, Trance is a film that might just hypnotize you.  This definitely was the case for me.  I absolutely loved this mind-bending thriller.  It's unendingly entertaining.  Have some wine coolers with this one because Trance gets a strong 0.03% rating.