McConaughey plays Baker Dill, a man hiding from his past creating a fake name and becoming a tuna fisherman on the tourist trap getaway Plymouth Island. Baker Dill is obsessed with catching this big tuna that many people assume is all in his head. That is, until his past comes looking for him. His previous lover, possibly ex-wife, Karen (played by Anne Hathaway) finds him on the island and begs him to kill her now husband Frank (played by Jason Clarke) and she will reward him handsomely with $10 million dollars. Baker Dill is confilicted because of moral reasons, everyone on the island wants him to catch this fish, and, it seems, everyone on the island knows about this plan to kill Frank, but Karen’s the mother of his son and he wants to protect his son at all costs.
Things become progressively weirder when Karen tells Baker Dill that she knows he’s been talking to their son. Whenever he is on the boat fishing by himself his son, Patrick, can hear him through his computer. Karen confesses Patrick is obsessed with this game that he created on the computer. Patrick hides in his room while Karen and Frank fight. Patrick even told Frank that he created this game so he “doesn’t have to kill you.”
This is crazy news to hear and Baker Dill becomes more confused with what is real and what isn’t especially when he meets a mysterious man in a suit Reid Miller (played by Jeremy Strong) who wants him to try out this special fish finder to catch the tuna. Miller slips up and calls himself the “rules.” Baker Dill wonders, what if this is all a game and he isn’t even real?
The story becomes more and more absurd. The acting is almost painful to watch. You wonder “how could this A-list cast sign up for this type of movie?” Especially Hathaway’s pseudo-noir pauses and dramatic looks which become laughable. The theatre was filled with so much laughing at serious moments gone bad, one audience member even made an audiable “what the heck?” that made the entire theatre erupt.
In the end, Baker Dill and the whole of Plymouth Island is indeed a video game created by the son Patrick. Baker Dill, originally, John, died fighting in combat years ago. The climax occurs when Baker Dill kills Frank in the ocean at the same time real life Patrick apparently stabs Frank to death. Patrick doesn’t get in trouble, claiming he was protecting his mother and he fought back in self-defense. It ends very bizarrely, as Patrick ends up writing a way for him to visit his dad in the video game. The two of them are left hugging on the boat, aptly named Serenity, and the viewers are just left relieved that this wacky movie is finally over.
Written and directed by Steven Knight who has created such masterpieces like the Tom Hardy helmed television show “Peaky Blinders” and film Locke, it is truly mindblowing how this movie became such a dud. Maybe Knight only strikes gold when Hardy is cast in the creation. Maybe everyone just phoned it in. The studio is reportedly burying the film because of bad press and you can’t blame them.
The characters are hard to like becaue you don’t even know if they’re real let alone right. The acting is forced. It almost makes you think that the two leads signed up for the film just so they can be by the beach and have a nice little vacation. Maybe Hathaway signed on just so she could wear a blonde wig? We guess we’ll never really know.
Ultimately, even if you are a fan of any of the actors in this film, we suggest skipping it. Even if it’s on Netflix one day, there’s better shows and movies to watch, we promise you.