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Blu-ray Review: Serenity

May 8, 2019

By John Corrado

★½ (out of 4)

Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) is a fishing boat captain living under the radar on a small island, and making money taking tourists out on his boat. He spends much of his time on the water, trying to catch a gigantic tuna that keeps eluding him.

But things change when Karen Zariakas (Anne Hathaway), an old flame from his past with whom he shares a son (Rafael Sayegh), shows up with a proposition for him. She offers him ten million dollars in exchange for taking her rich abusive husband Frank (Jason Clarke) out on his fishing boat, and throwing him overboard for the sharks.

This is the basic setup for Serenity, and it’s all I can really say without spoiling it. While the film starts off as a fairly simple moral parable built around the Hemingway-inspired story of a man chasing after an elusive fish that represents an insurmountable obstacle in his life, it soon morphs into something else entirely with a high concept twist that is revealed partway through and comes almost out of nowhere.

Directed by Steven Knight, following up his minimalist thriller Locke which featured Tom Hardy alone in a car for 85 minutes, Serenity is a major swing and miss for the filmmaker. I do sort of admire Knight for trying to do something different within the constraints of what appeared from the trailers to be a generic romantic mystery, but the execution simply and frustratingly doesn’t work. The film is unable to properly pull off its major narrative shift, and at times Knight’s screenplay seems unsure as to the basic mechanics of its own plot.

Furthermore, the characters aren’t well developed enough for us to become invested in them, and the talented cast is left struggling to rise above the material. There are some intriguing ideas here, and the general setup could have made for an interesting movie, but the story ends up making such bafflingly little sense that it’s hard to even discern at times what exactly the filmmaker was going for.

The Blu-ray includes no bonus features.

Serenity is an Elevation Pictures release. It’s 106 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: April 30th, 2019

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