REVIEW: Poor twist sinks ‘Serenity’

On the surface, “Serenity” looks like a film maybe worth checking out. Written and directed by a filmmaker with plenty of experience along with a cast of Oscar winners and nominees, it seems like it could be fine.

However, one should beware of what lies beneath.

“Serenity” centers on Baker (Matthew McConaughey), a fishing boat captain working on a small, remote island who makes just enough money to get by. Along with his first mate Duke (Djimon Hounsou), Baker often takes tourists on fishing trips for extra cash.

The film picks up with Baker being approached by a new, rather wealthy client. However, the client turns out to be a woman named Karen (Anne Hathaway), who he once had a relationship with. Shortly after she arrives, her husband Frank (Jason Clarke) also shows up. Upon their arrival, Baker soon gets dragged into a situation not only connected to his past, but one that will determine his future.

This is one of those tough movies to review since there’s quite a bit of material to spoil. With that in mind, this review can reveal that “Serenity,” while featuring some interesting concepts, is a total mess overall.

When it comes to the story, “Serenity” doesn’t necessarily start off in great fashion, but the first act at least sets up what looks like an average thriller that might turn out OK. Then, suddenly, the mightiest of curveballs is thrown and the film takes a twist into completely absurd territory. The reveal of what’s “really going on” isn’t just laughable, it’s also lacking in internal consistency.

The plot is rather poorly structured too, with pacing problems, inconsistent tones and bizarre turns, doing the story no favors.

It also doesn’t help that the dialogue is awkward and clunky, with many of the characters written as caricatures with poor lines. In defense of the cast, the main trio with McConaughey, Hathaway and Clarke do what they can, and their talents help a bit. Their efforts are like putting a band-aid on a major wound, though.

Steven Knight, who wrote and directed “Serenity,” didn’t actually have a bad concept here. In fact, when the whole thing is revealed, there’s a sense that with great execution, the concept could work quite well.

However, the execution wasn’t here with this one. Unless you’re a big fan of the actors or want to pick apart the twist, there’s not much of a reason to see “Serenity,” as it offers little visually and even less when it comes to story and dialogue. 1.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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