Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. USA, 2019. Global Road Entertainment, IM Global, Shoebox Films, Starlings Entertainment. Screenplay by Steven Knight. Cinematography by Jess Hall. Produced by Guy Heeley, Steven Knight, Greg Shapiro. Music by Benjamin Wallfisch. Production Design by Andrew McAlpine. Costume Design by Danny Glicker. Film Editing by Laura Jennings.
Matthew McConaughey has an Ahab-level obsession with catching a giant tuna off the coast of Plymouth Island where he lives, a place that appears to be a Gulf of Mexico enclave with only one bar and a friendly assortment of citizens who all know each other’s business. He makes cash selling the odd big catch or taking tourists out on his boat but his customer service leaves something to be desired, while his main human connections are with his best friend (Djimon Hounsou) on his boat and a gorgeous woman (Diane Lane) with whom he trysts from time to time on land. Enter Anne Hathaway in full, almost camp-level femme fatale mode, a woman from his past who asks for his help: she is married to brutal Jason Clarke and raising McConaughey’s son with him, the both of them suffering massive levels of abuse in his care. She’s hoping that McConaughey will take her husband out for a fishing cruise and accidentally lose him in shark-infested waters, promising a huge payload if he succeeds. Determined to ignore his checkered past, McConaughey refuses to do it, while at the same time a strange employee of a fishing supplies company keeps dogging him and reveals clues to something far more sinister in the air, our protagonist learning that there might be more control over his life than he previously realized. Throwing elements of Double Indemnity, Source Code, The Truman Show and Beasts of the Southern Wild into a blender (maybe a little Islands In The Stream while we’re at it), Steven Knight has created not a mess but something whose various genre elements, when combined, diminish each other into something pale and weak. The surprise twist comes too early and actually makes the rest of the movie pointless to sit through (and some elements of it make no sense, but it would require spoilers to express my feelings as to why that is), while the hard work being done by a top-flight cast is somewhat insulted by the hands-off approach that the director has to their plight. Gorgeous photography and bright colours (shot on location in Mauritius) at least makes it pleasant to look at.