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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

World's Greatest Dad Seeks Justice

Serenity (2019) on IMDb

Plot Overview

A tuna fishing boat, Serenity, off of Plymouth Island gets a bite (“Looks like this is a trophy fish, guys.”) Captain Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) commandeers the rod after forcing his clients below at knife point. The fish he's named Justice eludes him. So does any repeat business. He moon­lights catching sword­fish to stay ahead of the bank. A prissy sales­man Reid Miller (Jeremy Strong) offers him his latest techno fish-finder. Baker Dill frolics with a cat lady, Constance (Diane Lane.) His ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) shows up with an offer he's better off refusing. He has holes in his memory but thinks a lot about his boy Patrick (Rafael Sayegh) a dweeb who spends his days glued to a video game. It's another day in a Twilight Zone-like paradise.

Occam's Razor tells us not to multiply variables, but to accept as valid the simplest explanation consistent with the data. The clearest sign in this odd movie is the stop­light that goes from red to yellow to green. It flashes an excess of caution. The main character cycles among a fixed number of routines: catch the fish, find the cat, stock the boat. This suggests an overly cautious stalking ordinance as the basis for the movie universe.

Baker Dill, formerly known as John, became Oregon high school sweethearts with Karen who yielded up her virtue to him. They had their kid and three years later John went to Iraq, to return home later to find Karen had run off with Frank Zariakas (Jason Clarke) a construction worker. John is now so far out of their lives, we figure he must have run afoul of Oregon's restrictive stalking ordinance that allows no contact what­soever, not even through a third party. Plymouth Island is exquisitely isolated to accomplish just that, out­side the real world where we're all inter­connected through third party lines no matter what we do.

Frank, we are told, had never seen John's face. The higher court ruled that Oregon's (1990s) stalking ordinance would not apply to some­one who had inter­acted with the complainant “through communicative means only,” except if a threat were made. We see “John” threatening his clients. He must have threatened Frank on the phone as well. A second stalking conviction is a felony. We figure John must have hit a rough spot with the law and so is hiding out with a name change on the island. But we are never so completely isolated as the law would have us believe; Karen in fact tracks him down.

Since in our peopled world we can never actually reduce our influences on others to zero, Oregon's stalking ordinance is a patent absurdity. Law enforcement gets around it with a precept: “If she complains.” A stalker may never be able to reduce his interactions to zero, but the stalker will only be prosecuted if the stalked complains about some­thing. The woman draws the line. Here Karen sets her line when hiring John to dump her abusive husband Frank over­board and feed him to the sharks. It's pretty weird, but nothing is explained outright, and this explanation works best.


kid with hand puppetJohn's return from Iraq had occasioned a major separation on account of his being away. Patrick's position might be best described by author Ken Follett: (61)

now that the war had actually broken out, he thought only of the small boys who would live, as he had, with a hole in their lives where a father should be.

We see a flashback of John teaching Patrick to fish at age three. Then they lost contact for ten years. A boy's life needs security along the lines of, (Col. 3:21) “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Now Patrick has as a de facto father his mom's new husband who systematically beats her in his hearing. It provokes him to tell the guy, “If I didn't catch fish I'd find a way to kill you.” He thinks of happier times with his real dad while he fishes on screen.

Wise king Solomon cautioned, (Eccl. 7:17) “Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?” If Frank persists too much in hurting Patrick's mom, the kid might send her to find his dad to kill the abuser. It would also be foolish for Frank to mix drinking with water sport. Accidents happen.

Baker Dill's first mate Duke (Djimon Hounsou) was tasked with keeping the captain from temptation. He did his best, but he was only human. A Christian, how­ever, prays to a mighty God, (Matt. 6:9-13) “After this manner there­fore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. … And lead us not into temptation.” Baker Dill was praying to an island god, “Kale, gimme the damn fish, huh,” violating (Ex. 20:3) “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” But then Baker Dill wasn't presented as being a Christian to begin with. Duke wore a crucifix around his neck at all times. If a Christian had been thought of as perhaps stalking another one, it would not be some stupid stalking law sought as a remedy but another Christian available to make a determination, some­one like Duke, along the lines of, (1Cor. 6:4) “If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.” Christians have better options, you see, and a God they pray to.

Production Values

” (2019) was written and directed by Steven Knight. It stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Diane Lane. Lead McConaughey delivered a good performance as Capt. Baker, along with co-lead Anne Hathaway. Jason Clarke was adequately creepy as an abusive character.

MPAA rated it R for language throughout, sexual content, and some bloody images. The direction is lackluster. It uses a well worn film noir set-up.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This one would make a good Twilight Zone episode as it requires a dollop of imagination to inhabit the picture world, and it contains a plot-based lesson in morality. A woman has an ex who is quick to flash a knife, but he eschews violence even when he's incited. Her current husband, on the oter hand, speaks in velvet tones but marks her body. For her part she is cruel in her retribution. It's intimated that Christians may have better in-house resolution in matters between them­selves. It's all kind of vague, so you have to work it out your­selves. The movie deliberately steps over the line of credibility for sake of an artistic message.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Special effects: Average special effects. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Follett, Ken. Night Over Water. New York: William Morrow and Co. © Ken Follett, 1991. Print.