29 January 2019 | thirtyfivestories
World's First Feature-Length Fragrance Commercial
Here lies the unwanted, unofficial final installment in the Matthew McConaughty sailor/treasure hunter trilogy accompanied by Sahara and Fool's Gold. Steven Knight follows up 2013's excellent Locke with this more ambitious (sci-fi?) melodrama. Locke being a minimal "Let's film Tom Hardy during a car ride" effort that wowed everyone with its staying power. This film could've easily been "Let's film Matthew McConaughey during a fishing trip" and would've been a much more compelling narrative. The "expansive" environment of the film's world spreads the logic of the premise so thin that pores begin to appear as soon as the opening act.
McConaughey plays Baker Dill, a renegade ex-pat that takes tourists out to fish tuna. He's also harbors a Moby Dick-esque obsession with a giant fish he calls Justice. If that sounds like a painfully obvious thematic motif, then you would be spot on. Baker's fixation with the creature frequently jeopardizes his excursion business, which puts himself in financial potholes. Then enters the most elementary conflict possible: Our protagonist is broke, and needs to make personal compromises to become rich. Baker's financial salvation arrives in his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) who has married up to possibly a construction tycoon (this is my best guess).
Karen reveals the history of abuse that her current husband Frank (Jason Clarke) has dished out on her and Baker's son, Patrick. She offers Baker a proposition that would rid her of a slave master husband, and award Baker the funds to avoid prostituting his body and skills ever again. The remainder of the plot has us stuck to Baker as he goes through the rose pedal "I do it; I don't" charade. The brevity of this review is a result of the most lazy twist in recent memory, that makes spoiling the otherwise unsatisfying turn all too easy due to its painfully early reveal.
The grand meta-plot crashes in the door midway through the second act, and blows its load suddenly and all at once. We are literally served up a character whose sole purpose is to break the twist to Baker. After some rough housing from Baker, this mysterious prophet spills the beans with zero nuance, and the film ruins itself at a blistering pace. Then (as to pull a rug over the vomit) the film has Baker questioning the prophet's proclamation for what seems like eternity (Eternity would've been a more apt title upon further thought) regardless of the blatant signs plastered all around him.
Too often movies hide behind plot-twists to avoid scrutiny, and this one cowards behind a skinny palm tree rather pathetically. Knight attempts to cash in on a video game industry that he clearly has no understanding of (I promise that checks out after you *if you* subject yourself to this film). If it weren't for the spoiler-free creed I hold myself to, then I would detail in full all the cringe-worthy missteps taken by this revision-free script. I suppose Knight wins this round, considering he has created an inscrutable film. The only winners are the viewers playing a cheeky drinking game whenever McConaughty's ass appears on screen. Screw it. Spoiler alert: The buns appear in four separate scenes.