By Stephen Shea
Serenity (2019) is the latest film from director Steven Knight, the director of Locke (2013) and creator of Peaky Blinders. Serenity follows Matthew McConaughey as Dill, a fisherman with a storied past hiding out in a small fishing town on an isolated island. Dill is quickly approached by his ex-wife played by Anne Hathaway. She plans to off her abusive husband and attempts to hire Dill to take him out to sea and feed him to the sharks. Dill must decide whether or not he will compromise his morality for ten million dollars or continue to allow Jason Clarke’s character to keep abusing her.
Serenity starts off fairly strong with an interesting neo-noir concept and McConaughey and Hathaway have great chemistry playing a sort of Bogart and Baccall type of banter. The island is mysterious and McConaughey wrestling with the moral implications of the situation is kind of interesting. Jason Clarke comes into the picture and he seems genuinely scary and awful which should make the decision more clear, but it doesn’t. Then there is a twist about halfway through the film that completely ruins the potential of the beginning. I am debating whether or not to ruin it in this review. I think I will put the spoiler at the end of the review, because I feel the twist needs to be properly discussed in order to explain why my score for this film is so low. It is so bonkers and out of left field yet it somehow doesn’t feel unearned. Nonetheless all of the promise of the beginning is wasted as the tone changes. The film begins to meander and just becomes boring as the twist is explained to the audience multiple times often becoming frustrating and boring. Both ideas are interesting on their own, but just ruin the potential each idea had. I kind of felt cheated when I left the theater, as I had thought I was going to see the tropical neo-noir and then I got something completely different that I didn’t even want to see.
Don’t read this unless you actually want to be surprised about the big twist. So Dill about halfway through the film finds out he is in a video game created by his son while his step-father is abusing him and his mother. Dill soon realizes that he has to go against the programing of the game, which wants him to catch a giant fish. Oh, and Dill pulls a Bruce Willis and has been dead the whole time. If I am being honest, it makes literally no sense and it seems like there are no real stakes or any reason to continue watching. It completely ruins the great beginning.