2019 is off to a shaky start in film with the woefully misguided psychological thriller Serenity.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Baker Dill, a bitter, hard-drinking island fisherman endlessly pursuing an elusive tuna he calls “Justice.” His ex-wife (Anne Hathaway) shows up and offers him $10 million to kill her wealthy new husband (Jason Clarke), who abuses her and McConaughey’s son. This all sounds like a straightforward noir setup. But all of the characters are one-dimensional and the dialogue is heavy-handed.
About an hour into its 106 minute running time, Serenity has a dramatic twist that takes it from film noir territory to a new-age meditation on the subconscious and the nature of identity. That description likely sounds clumsy and puzzling, and it feels even more clumsy and puzzling in the film itself. It’s hard to discuss in more detail without spoiling the specifics of the twist, which the movie clearly wants to be a devastating surprise.
Writer/director Steven Knight has written some good scripts in his career (Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises), but Serenity seems like it was half-baked from the start.