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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: Something Smells Fishy With "Serenity"

Jan 26, 2019 04:56PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway in Serenity - © 2019 Aviron Pictures.

Serenity (Aviron Pictures)

Rated R for language throughout, sexual content, nudity, and some bloody images.

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong, Rafael Sayegh.

Written and Directed by Steven Knight.



Movies, like most art produced for mass consumption or experience, are supposed to have some sort of value, meaning or lesson for audiences. Most times, the artist’s vision can be adapted into a collective experience, with various degrees of understanding or enjoyment. A common failure for such projects is when the artist’s vision seems suited only for his or her own experience, while the rest of us stand back and say, “What the *%@!”? Steven Knight has created and written a few quality films, but his latest attempt at art is Serenity, and it even though it’s only January, it may hold on to remain the worst film of 2019.

Matthew McConaughey stars as Baker Dill, an Iraq War veteran hiding on away on a tropical island where he operates a fishing boat (named “Serenity) for tourists. His first mate is Duke (Djimon Hounsou). Dill is obsessed with catching a giant tuna he names “Justice.” When his business suffers due to his obsession, Dill pays frequent visits to Constance (Diane Lane), giving her sexual favors in exchange for cash to make ends meet. One day, a beautiful woman in a white dress appears on the dock: his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway). She explains how much their teenage son Patrick (Rafael Saveigh) misses him and how awful her life has been at the hands of her abusive, rich husband Frank (Jason Clarke). He also learns that Patrick spends almost all his time creating and playing a computerized fishing game because he’s some sort of genius and uses the game to escape from Frank’s abuse. Karen offers Dill a deal: take Frank out fishing, get him drunk, toss him overboard for shark food – in exchange for $10 million. Dill refuses at first but is further intrigued when Reid Miller (Jeremy Strong), a mysterious man in a dark suit selling fishing gear shows up offering a free fish finder device, warning him not to kill Frank, because it’s against the “rules.” Soon, everyone on the island knows about Dill’s dilemma, and they are all trying to influence him one way or another.

I won’t spoil anything or even hint as to how things turn out because Serenity isn’t worth your time. The “twist” ending has to be the silliest cinematic story device I can remember and trying to fathom or explain what Steven Knight was trying to “say” in Serenity feels like a futile venture. Seriously, you’ll get more intrigue and excitement from a fishing show on an outdoor cable channel than you will from this stinker.

Serenity has all the look and feel of a modern film noir but what starts out as a clichéd “mystery” is lost as the ruse playing beneath the surface is revealed. Hathaway’s femme fatale performance is the worst of the leading roles, played to campy extremes, like a Carol Burnett sketch (think: Jessica Rabbit with a potty mouth).     

The cast has plenty of talent, but not even the skilled McConaughey, Hathaway, Hounsou, and Diane Lane can redeem this contrived, ridiculous film from having any kind of appeal unless you really like seeing a lot of McConaughey naked and in sexual situations with Lane and Hathaway.

By the time the end credits roll in Serenity, you’ll feel like you’ve been on a long fishing trip, but have caught nothing but a sunburn, seasickness and a bad case of the “stupids.”


Serenity Trailer