The film’s opening offers a hint of what is to be expected of the new psychological noir thriller called SERENITY. The eyes of a woman fill the screen as the camera enters the eyes as if the eyes are the entrance to the soul. The audience is taken under water and gradually to the surface where a fishing boat named SERENITY is seen and the radio is heard. The radio is broadcast from Radio Plymouth of Plymouth Island. The audience will surely ask themselves where the hell on earth is Plymouth Island. The closest link is the port of Plymouth in the south coast of England. But is there a such a place called Plymouth Island?
The film could be described as FATAL ATTRACTION meets OLD MAN AND THE SEA, Hemmingway style, in a sort of screwed up David Lynch world. Whether the film succeeds is dependent on the audience but SERENITY offers trashy fun with Matthew McConaughey in what is a typical Nicholas Cage role.
The subject of the story of Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey), an out on his luck boatman who earns a living by taking tourists fishing at Plymouth Island. He works with a caring hand (Djimon Hounsou), who he has an often fond/hate relationship with. Baker appears obsessed with capturing an elusive tuna he nicknames ‘Justice’. He has never come close to catching Justice though he has caught many sharks instead. Enters one obnoxious tourist (Jason Clarke) whose wife (Anne Hathaway) is willing to pay $10 million to Baker to see her husband dead. Apparently, the husband’s son wishes the same. The husband tells Baker: “My son is in his basement all day and when I finally find out what he was doing – playing a video game, his reply was: “Would you rather me be doing something else like killing you?” This line is a clue as to where the story is leading. It is all very intriguing at this point in this strange but absorbing mystery movie.
The script, also written by director Steven Knight, keeps the audience guessing as to what is really happening. The dialogue often has two meanings. Strange characters like Reid Miller (Jeremy Strong), always in a suit, appeal out of nowhere. Reid says he is the rules of the game and does not care whether he lives or dies or who he is.
The film is enlivened by McConaughey’s crazed performance. But it is Jason Clarke, the mean obnoxious tourist who steals the show. Knight includes some very hot sex senes with McConaughey.
The film works before the audience is clued as to what is happening. After what has been made clear, expectations seem to dwindle. A sort of ah-ha, so this is what the film is all about. Nothing more can be that interesting and the film then ends with a disappointing Hollywood ending. For all that is worth, SERENITY is trashy fun while it works, and fortunately, it works for a majority of its running time.