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Movie Review

Everybody knows everything on Plymouth Island.

Except for Baker Dill.

A war veteran and current recluse on the lazy, secluded island, Baker has hidden himself away—away from his past, his responsibilities and, sometimes, his own thoughts.

He lives his predictable days taking his boat—good 'ole Serenity—out on the ocean. Occasionally, it's with tourists to catch a prized fish or two and reel in the cash. But most times, Baker simply hunts a behemoth of a fish, one he’s named Justice. This hunt, this compulsive desire, consumes his every waking moment, enabling him to disconnect from his former life.

But just when he starts to think he’s making some emotional progress, his stunning ex-wife, Karen, shows up out of the deep blue. And not for a casual visit. No, Karen has a proposition: She'll give Baker $10 million in cash if he'll simply toss her abusive husband overboard as food for the sharks.

It's a tempting offer.

Now, Baker Dill must decide between Justice or Serenity, between right and wrong—on an island where the lines of morality are often blurred, and nothing is as it seems.

Positive Elements

Baker Dill is a troubled man who wrestles with the definitions of good and evil. He asks friends to help him make the right choices (even when he doesn’t do so), and he tries to create a peaceful life, even after a betrayal. He is protective of friends (albeit in some unconventional ways). And he truly loves his son, whom he wishes to protect (even though he hasn’t seen his boy in years).

A young teen is likewise fiercely protective of his mother and is praised by teachers who believe him to be brilliant.

Questions of morality increasingly come into play as Baker ponders the meaning of justice, love and faithfulness, and as he tries to draw a line between right and wrong.

Spiritual Content

Duke, Baker's fishing partner, is a man of faith. He is seen in church, wears a cross and gives advice to Baker. After Baker asks Duke to “deliver” him from temptation, Duke tries to tell Baker the difference between good and evil, heaven and hell. The man also tells Baker that “there is a God,” saying that making the right choices will reflect the fact that he is a good man. Later on, though, Duke suggests that Baker go and see “an Indian woman” who specializes in adjusting peoples’ luck.

Some other spiritual themes are lightly touched upon throughout the film, such as creation, purpose and the meaning of existence. A statue of an island god, meant to give luck, is seen in various scenes.

Sexual Content

There are several graphic sex scenes throughout the film. Baker has sex with one woman frequently. She supplies him with money for fishing gear in exchange for sex. (She jokingly calls Baker a “hooker.”) These scenes involve explicit movements and sounds. His bare backside is seen multiple times, and we see quite a bit of her skin, too (though technically avoiding nudity in her case). Baker also has rough sex with another woman (she’s in lingerie and he is seen almost completely naked) whom he's using for revenge.

Frank, Karen’s husband, is an abusive man who takes pleasure in sexually abusing his wife. Karen is forced to take her robe off (we see her unclothed from the rear) as her husband inspects her body, looking for a reason to harm her. In another scene, Karen’s bare back reveals the bloody marks he's left.

Baker skinny-dips. (We see his rear and a shot of him from the side, underwater.) A married man crudely says that he wants to have sex with poor, “little girls” at a cheap price. Couples kiss. A man makes a crude comment about oral sex and smacks his wife’s rear. A wife leaves her husband for another man. A woman recounts a memory of the first time she had sex when she was “finally old enough.” A woman is forced to call her husband “daddy” and to use her weak physical state to arouse him.

Violent Content

Karen is terrified of her abusive husband, Frank. She tells Baker that he has beaten her (and occasionally their son) for the past 10 years of their marriage, and that he will kill her if she tries to escape. In one scene, we see her husband take off his belt as he prepares to flay her with it. (Local residents say she was beaten by his hands and belt for more than an hour, all without making a sound.)

Other scenes include an abusive man screaming at his wife, violently threatening her life, throwing objects and physically beating her. (All of this is heard by a young teen in his bedroom, where he's hidden away.) Later, we hear that a 13-year-old boy is arrested for murder after stabbing his stepfather in the chest.

A man calls for a hit on another man, who is eventually found lying in his bathroom, covered in blood. Blood covers multiple surfaces in his hotel room, and it's visible on his broken hand and severely beaten face, too.

Someone says that there’s enough rope “to hang yourself.” Multiple death threats are made, and a few men are attacked with a knife. We see a young boy with a black eye. A man is pushed up against a wall and threatened. Another character talks about what he saw as a soldier, including dismembered bodies. Someone gets dragged into the ocean by his fishing rod (and we see bloody bait sprinkled into the water beforehand to attract sharks).

Crude or Profane Language

God’s name is misused four times, some of which are paried with "d--n." Jesus’ name is misused three times. The f-word is heard nearly 80 times and the s-word twice. "D--n" is heard more than 10 times, and other profanity includes multiple uses of "a--hole," "a--," "b--tard," "b--ch" and "h---."

A teenage boy is harshly demeaned as a "pr--k" and a "retard."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Men smoke cigarettes. Characters drink hard liquor, beer and champagne, sometimes to excess. Baker is a well-known local alcoholic. We see him drinking rum and taking multiple shots.

Other Negative Elements

Baker’s obsessive personality causes him to disconnect from the world. He is often lost in his head, confused by his own reality and thrown off by unexpected change. Baker makes a harsh comment about a woman’s death, and he later says that he never recovered mentally after serving in a war.


Who is the creator of reality? Is it us? And how much gray exists in a world of black and white?

This noir thriller addresses these questions and others through the life of Baker Dill and his haunting past. It’s a film that asks viewers to grapple with right and wrong, with good and evil.

But much of that duality is also graphically displayed here. Abuse in many forms takes center stage, both as a propellant and a warning. Sex, power and revenge permeate the plot. Harsh language is heard throughout, and problematic moral messages emerge as the story unfolds.

Baker Dill says, “Sometimes we do bad things for good reasons.” But despite the seemingly deep questions this film tries to ask, viewers will be hard-pressed to find much that's redemptive as they wade through this thriller’s ocean of problematic content.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Matthew McConaughey as Baker Dill; Anne Hathaway as Karen; Diane Lane as Constance; Djmon Hounsou as Duke; Jason Clarke as Frank; Jeremy Strong as Reid Miller; Garion Dowds as Samson; Rafael Sayegh as Patrick


David Knight ( )


Aviron Pictures



Record Label



In Theaters

January 25, 2019

On Video

April 30, 2019

Year Published



Kristin Smith

Content Caution

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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