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“Serenity” Strands Anne Hathaway And Matthew McConaughey On A Nonsensical Island

Where to begin? There is so many things wrong with Serenity, the new thriller hitting theaters today, that’s hard to find an entry point. The initial thriller set up isn’t compelling, the performances are unfocused and incredibly broad, and the insane twist is one that ranks among the worst we’ve seen in a movie in some time. Nothing works here, but somehow the filmmaker seems to think he’s cracked the cinematic code. It’s so sure of its own self, unaware of how wrongheaded it is. Frankly, it’s kind of stunning to watch. I’d say you need to see it in order to believe it, but that would suggest this is something worth seeing, and that is decidedly not the case. It’s sometimes hilarious, but always unintentionally so.

The movie is a thriller meant to mix in erotic and noir elements. Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) is loose cannon fishing boat captain making a meager living on a small island. Clearly having run away from his past in the United States, he takes rich drunks out on the water to catch tuna, with the help of first mate Duke (Djimon Hounsou). When his ex wife Karen Zariakas (Anne Hathaway) arrives unannounced, closely followed by her abusive new husband Frank Zariakas (Jason Clarke), Baker wants nothing to do with them. Then, Karen offers him $10 million to kill Frank. He shrugs it off until she reveals how this involves their young son. Then, all bets are off. However, this is when the film starts getting weird. I won’t say what happens, but there is a bizarre change in genre that is incredibly dumb and nonsensical. Seriously, it’s insane. You’ll laugh, but it’s not meant to be funny. Steven Knight writes and directs, while the supporting cast includes Diane Lane, Rafael Sayegh, Jeremy Strong, and more. Jess Hall handles the cinematography, while the score is composed by Benjamin Wallfisch.

There’s no nice way to put this…Serenity is atrocious. This film is such a waste of a talented cast. Knight’s bizarre bungling of his already strange material mixes with overly broad performances by Hathaway and McConaughey to form one of 2019’s worst efforts by far. The more you realize how out there the plot twist is, the worse it gets. That’s hard to pull off too. Up until then, it was already a bad movie, so any upending of the narrative should have been a boon. Instead, it just goes further and further off the rails. Frankly, it boggles the mind to bear witness to this disaster.

I’ll keep free of spoiling the twist, but I do want to talk about how misguided it is, in general. You can tell that Knight thought he was pulling off something unique. As it happens, you can almost imagine him patting himself on the back as he was writing the script. Here’s the thing though…it makes no sense. It’s batshit insane, arbitrary, and only serves to further showcase how off the whole thing is. A bad movie gets worse, the deeper we go, down to another circle of cinematic Hell. Much like Life Itself was almost perfectly misguided last year, so too is this one. Plus, the less said about the ending, the better.

Starting today, audiences will have Serenity as an option at their local multiplex. Avoid it at all costs, but the option is there, undeniably so (delayed from its 2018 release, this is the sort of thing where it’s escaping, more so than being released). Hopefully you make a better decision, since I took this bullet for you all. Simply put, I saw it so you don’t have to. Even if you’re an all in Hathaway or McConaughey fan, you’d be better served revisiting something else of theirs, as opposed to this new offering. It’s just garbage. I wish that wasn’t the case, but that’s just how this cinematic cookie happened to crumble…

Serenity is in theaters now. Consider yourself warned!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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