SHOULD I SEE IT?
Attention: For all of you who love movies which are so bad, they are good. Tickets are on sale now for Serenity.
Matthew McConaughey is naked. A lot. If that’s your cup of tea.
The twist. THE TWIST!!! Serenity’s glorious big reveal makes me almost want to force everyone to go watch this thing.
I think it is safe to say that this movie hates women. Like a lot.
Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway will keep making movies, maybe even good ones again some day. But we will always have Serenity. Always.
After writing some terrific scripts and directing the impressive Locke in 2013, Steven Knight shows us that maybe directing just isn’t his thing. Few films seem to overwhelm directors like this does from about the 15-minute mark on through to the finish.
Steven Knight’s Serenity is nuts. Insane. A bizarre neo-noir thriller set in the sweat-soaked heat of somewhere called Plymouth Island, where our main character, Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey), lives in a converted storage container and leads fishing expeditions, semi-funded by his sugar-momma, in the hopes of catching a giant tuna he calls “Justice.”
It takes all of 15 minutes to see that Knight’s film is rudderless and careening wildly out of control, a film that feels edited almost at random, holding back a twist that is one of the most hysterical and illogical reveals in recent movie history. And that includes the whopper M. Night Shyamalan dropped on everyone with Glass just about a week ago.
But I digress.
Serenity is not just bonkers, it also is cringe-worthy, misogynistic, LOL-levels of awful. It is almost sport watching Oscar winners McConaughey and Anne Hathaway try and salvage something, anything, from a script and story so absurd, you wonder what they were given (or paid) prior to signing on the bottom line.
Baker is a gruff, buff, fishing captain, making meager money taking wannabe fishers out on day trips with his fishing boat, named, and say it with me, “Serenity.” As distracted as a puppy seeing a butterfly, Dill is obsessed with landing that tuna, so much so that he will even go so far as to threaten to stab his paying customers when he thinks he has a bite.
Way to run a business pal.
Mentally erratic, Baker decides to fire his first mate, Duke (Djimon Hounsou), because he is “bad luck,” and burns through a once-every-day sexual tryst with Constance (Diane Lane). She makes bad jokes about paying him money when they’re through because “he’s a hooker who can’t afford to buy hooks.”
(Pause for laughs.)
That sexy money keeps Serenity in business (I guess??), allows him to live in that metal shed, and take naked leaps off a nearby rock cliff for what he calls his “shower time.”
We learn that Baker’s divorced, with a 13-year-old son, Patrick (Rafael Sayegh), when ex-wife Karen (Hathaway) femme fatale’s her way into the proceedings. Fluttering her eyes and speaking in lame, erotic whisper-tones, she offers a $10 million cash prize for Baker to take her abusive husband Frank (Jason Clarke) out on the boat, get him drunk, and then throw him to the sharks.
Initially, Baker is having none of this. But then we wouldn’t have a movie, now would we?
So, he does the math. Because, you know, $10 million. And he also has the chance to reconnect directly with a son he somehow communicates with telepathically.
Granted, he doesn’t really understand that’s his connection to his kid (making all of us equals in the not understanding portion of our program); yet, somehow, Karen does know this and explains all of this to Baker while he grunts and stares off into the distance.
Or cuts a fish. Or is naked again. Who knows.
Seriously, McConaughey spends so much screen time showing his backside, taking off or putting on pants. In one scene, he swims naked for like 2-3 minutes, almost mermaid-like…and, you know what...let’s just move along.
Like most film noirs, we have mystery and suspense, a melodramatic music score from acclaimed composer Benjamin Wallfisch, and a strange Man-In-Business-Suit-With-Briefcase-Wearing-Small-Glasses named Reid Miller (Jeremy Strong), chasing after Baker at all hours of day and night, always missing him, but yelling, “Mr. Dill? Mr. Dill? Mr. Dillllllllllllll?!?!?!”
Serenity is an absolute mess. Ludicrously plotted, and baffling in terms of editing and pacing. This whole endeavor feels like a movie that had way too many hands involved in cutting, editing, and splicing together the final product.
There is no continuity, veering from sexually charged thriller found at the video store in the 1990s, to the kind of B-movie dreck talented actors turn to when the A-list scripts dry up.
When the mystery behind Karen and her husband, the $10 million, the telepathic connections, the idiot with the briefcase, and all the rest gets revealed – it is a howler. A twist that some will applaud for the sheer audacity of the movie trying it in the first place, while others will be insulted, and many will look at one another and ask “What? How? Why?”
Worse yet, when the realization sets in on why Serenity is the way it is, everything that comes before the reveal feels 1,000 times more icky and gross.
The McConaissance may now be over, Hathaway’s comeback may be wasted, but Steven Knight is the one truly at fault here. The good he generated with directing Locke and writing Dirty, Pretty Things, Locke, and Eastern Promises, is all but washed away.
The year? Nah. Serenity ranks as one of the worst films of the decade.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong, Rafael Sayegh, Garion Dowds.
Director: Steven Knight
Written by: Steven Knight
Release Date: January 25, 2019