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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Feb 12, 2019

Serenity Movie Review: Be Ready For A Wild Ride With Shocking Twists & Surprises Along The Way

‘SERENITY’ is one daring movie. Some viewers will find it nutty and crazy and say it doesn’t make sense, but the more adventurous ones would find it audacious in its unpredictable plot developments and in trying to be a very different film with shocking surprises.

What it conveys is rather elusive and the film later morphs into something that changes its perspective altogether. It’s difficult to describe in a review like this, but we’ll try. So be warned, if you intend to watch the movie, don’t read this review as there will be lots of spoilers!

Matthew McConaughey plays a fishing boat captain, Baker Dill, who lives in a remote island called Plymouth.  He and his first mate, Duke (Djimon Honsou), takes out rich men into the ocean to catch fish for a good price. But he is not really keen on conducting good business as he is more obsessed with catching a large fish that he calls Justice, feeling like Captain Ahab to Moby Dick, but some folks say the fish is just a figment of his imagination.

Dill’s life is pretty routine, consisting mainly of drinking, smoking and occasionally sleeping with a rich island woman, Constance (Diana Lane), when he’s broke. But then, his ex-wife, Karen (Anne Hathaway), enters the picture. They broke up ten years ago and she has since remarried to Frank Zariacas (Jason Clarke), a wealthy but abusive man who beats her up and is now threatening to also hurt her son, Patrick (Rafael Sayegh), whose dad is Dill.

Frank is powerful enough to get rid of them if ever they’d try to leave him. He is scheduled to arrive in the island the next day and Karen wants Dill to take her current husband on a fishing trip where her husband may fall overboard and die in a tragic “accident”. If this would happen, Karen would pay Dill a whopping $10 million! He refuses at first but eventually agrees to conspire to get Frank on his boat. And Frank turns out to be even more hateful than what Karen says about him.

This, of course, is a classic film noir set up like “Postman Always Rings Twice”, “Double Indemnity” and “Body Heat”, and you’d probably think you already know where it’s going, but writer-director Steven Knight (“Eastern Promises”, “Dirty Pretty Things”, “Locke”) has other things in mind and the narrative soon shifts in ways that you won’t see coming.

The twist is so jarring that it will either turn off the viewers who’ll say it’s preposterous, or it may fascinate them with all its weirdness and sheer insanity. Movies today can be so predictable and formulaic but ‘Serenity’, in comparison, will be amusing for those who enjoy the idea of not knowing at all where the film is going and whether all the dots will get connected in the end. It’s just so wild and strange.

One character will be a puzzle to viewers, Reid Miller (Jeremy Strong), a businessman who’s been pursuing Dill, who seems to have a telepathic connection with his son Patrick. Reid tells Dill that he is a salesman for a fishing equipment company. But then, he reveals to Dill that he is actually a character in a video game that Patrick is playing.

The real Dill is already dead and Patrick has just reprogrammed a video game to live out his own fantasy of murdering his abusive stepfather. The digital Dill is communicating with Patrick through the game’s code. After Dill kills the digital stepfather, Patrick in real life gets a knife and finally gets the courage to confront his real life stepdad who’s been beating up his mom for many years.

After this, Patrick programs himself into the video game to be reunited with his father. So did you get it? We won’t be surprised if you’d go out of the theaters feeling perplexed or even annoyed by what you saw.

Matthew and Anne play characters that are somewhat complicated as they can easily become caricatures, but somehow, they get to hit all the right notes. Matthew plays off his character as a problematic man who screams his lungs out into the vast void of the ocean. Anne plays the femme fatale trophy wife with elan and her scenes with Matthew really work well.

Director Steven Knight uses the film as his wildly imaginative playground to craft an unusual and odd concept and treats the story with a dirty but sexy undertone that’s slightly off the wall since the characters play beautiful people in an idyllic island about to do some criminal act. If you go for unconventional out-of-the movies that will challenge you, this one is definitely right up your alley.