Chances are you’ve already heard or read: This movie kinda sucks. So I won’t delve too deep into the waters of this fish tale gone awry. Suffice it to say, I expected more (better?) from a stylized thriller with an A-list cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke and Djimon Hounsou. I’m not one to automatically subscribe to the “If it’s released in January, it’s gonna stink” theory. Heck, The Kid Who Would Be King is actually pretty good. And M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass is looking better by the day! So what happened here? I have to believe that the cast saw something Inception or Interstellar-like in writer/director Steven Knight’s script that simply did not translate onto the screen. It fails quite spectacularly, mainly due to a plot twist that – tempted as I may be – can’t be revealed without spoiling the whole kit and caboodle. Here’s the general set-up: A fishing boat captain named Baker Dill (McConaughey) is hired by his femme fatale ex-wife Karen (Hathaway) to take her abusive current husband Frank (Clarke) out on a fishing trip and feed him to the sharks. For his troubles, she’ll pay him 10 million dollars. That’s a lot of tuna.
Dill struggles with his conscience, gets naked a lot, chases a big fish named “Justice” that taunts him out on the open waters, is haunted by his past, and has dalliances with an island neighbor (Lane) when he’s low on cash. (Insert various ‘hooking’ puns here). The more I thought about this movie after the fact, the less I liked it, and the more repulsed I got at how it might all be interpreted. It’s icky, and weird. I was totally on board for the first half-hour or so, mainly because I was curious where this island mystery may ultimately lead. I even thought perhaps they were going for “campy” because the acting often seemed way over-the-top. Alas, it only leads one astray, culminating in a deep sense of regret for two hours lost.