Serenity: Film Review

I had heard very bad things about Serenity but I tried to go in with an open mind, thinking a movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway can’t be that bad, but I’m here to tell you it can!

McConaughey is Baker Dill, a fisherman living on the island of Plymouth. One day he is visited by his ex-wife Karen (Hathaway) who asks him to take her abusive husband Frank (Jason Clarke) out for a fishing trip and throw him overboard to the sharks to help save their son Patrick (Rafael Sayegh).

That sounds like a straightforward and promising concept for a neo-noir thriller. If the film had been that simple and conventional I may well have liked it, but rest assured that all is not what it seems in Serenity. I don’t want to spoil anything but let me just say that a big twist comes about 2/3s of the way in that completely changes everything and not in a good way. Some films present a game-changing twist that elevates the material and you’re like, “Oh wow”, whereas Serenity’s twist is dumb, ridiculous and like, “Huh? That’s really what you’re going with? OK”.

Steven Knight, the creator of the excellent TV show Peaky Blinders, has written a pretty naff screenplay. It’s hard to criticise the actors for their performances when they’re given such awful lines to say, particularly Hathaway, who is given the clichéd femme fatale role and has to say stuff like “daddy” which made me cringe. They aren’t given much to work with. McConaughey gives his all in a very deranged, sweaty performance – but at one point he let out this desperate guttural cry and I started laughing! I doubt this was the intention. The bad dialogue can be explained away a bit with the twist but I’m not convinced.

There is also support from Diane Lane, who is basically there to give Baker money and sleep with him, Clarke, as the absolute arsehole Frank, who you 100% want to die, Jeremy Strong as Reid, a mystery character we can’t talk much about, and Djimon Hounsou as Baker’s first mate.

Serenity is just unexpectedly bonkers and not in a good way. I didn’t 100% hate it because I liked the setting (Mauritius) and watching McConaughey go about Baker’s life but it’s really hard to enjoy it after the twist. The structure is all over the place, there are no stakes, it becomes quite funny (in a ‘WTF?’ disbelief kind of way) and the ending was something of a damp squib.

Sky Cinema haven’t had a great run of original releases so far. I hope their fates change soon because they’re never going to compete with streamers at this rate.

Available on Sky Cinema now

(Rating: 2/5)

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