We have all become obsessed with something at one point in our lives, haven’t we? Something that constantly evades our grasp after coming so tantalisingly close. Has that “thing” ever been a fish perhaps? No? Well, that hardly comes as a surprise, but for fishing boat captain Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey), the need to catch an evasive, enormous Tuna named Justice is nothing short of an obsession.
Residing on Plymouth Island and making a living by taking tourists on fishing expeditions, Dill finds his life thrown overboard when a visit from his ex-wife, Karen (Anne Hathaway), resurrects feelings from the past and a terrible truth for Dill to comprehend. Unwillingly cast into making an ultimate choice, he must decide whether or not to tread a path of darkness when Karen asks him to take her abusive husband (Jason Clarke) out fishing on his boat and to return without him.
When a film features an all-star cast, such as that in Serenity, one may think it a shame that awards season has already passed, and from the outset there are high hopes for this film. Beautiful Caribbean landscapes and visuals engulf the screen as a tropical paradise is unveiled before our eyes, with a unique style of filming suggesting that what we are about to witness may well be a work of art. But as we begin to delve deeper into the various threads of the movie’s storyline and its characters, a deep sense of disappointment begins to manifest itself within the viewer and the film itself.
Having introduced its focal characters through relatively engaging means, Serenity‘s plot slowly but surely establishes an authentic and curiously inviting concept, only to then turn the story completely on its head in true Bryan Singer/Christopher Nolan fashion – strangely enough via a plot twist that is possibly the most obvious in cinema history. It’s a twist so obvious, in fact, that one would consider it far too simple for such a movie with A-list actors and a director of Steven Knight’s calibre. Knight, who has written and directed television programmes such Peaky Blinders and Locke (2013), clearly possesses the talents and experience to conjure up a screenplay of the highest quality.
So why is this film such a wild miss? The script seems lacklustre, lazy, in fact, and looking at the actors’ performances, they know it too. McConaughey embraces his inner Nic Cage, creating a sort of “McConaugh-Cage”, if you will, delivering a performance of the quality we have come to expect, but one that is twisted by the story’s plot and bare-boned development. Hathaway is also admirable, yet appears to be dramatised more than ever, bringing little more personality that veers away from her sole goal of murder and building diminutive chemistry with McConaugh-Cage, removing any spark from conceivable scenes of romance. Also, she is blonde. Why? Answer unknown. Jason Clarke appears to be the only actor genuinely enjoying himself as the abusive Zariakas, it is just a shame that the rest of the ensemble find their own characters let down.
The premise of this movie is there on paper and the $25 million budget is there to match, it is just the final product that attempts to force square pegs in round holes. On another day, maybe with a twist pulled from slightly less far afield and woven into the plot with more care, a powerful and exciting movie awaits. Alas, we shall have to wait a little longer for such a film.
Serenity is released in select cinemas and on Sky Cinema on 1st March 2019.
Watch the trailer for Serenity here: