Despite solid performances from Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, “Serenity” fails to meet its audience’s high expectations of a film with such big-name talent. “Serenity” offers its viewers implausible plot development, unnatural storyline twists and an easily predictable ending that creates an unsatisfying experience.
Known as a director and screenwriter for the critically well-received “Locke” with Tom Hardy and the BBC’s “Peaky Blinders,” Steven Knight returns to U.S. theaters with his thriller “Serenity,” but without much to give.
The movie starts by showing the life of Baker Dill, played by McConaughey, who is a fishing boat captain on the isolated Plymouth Island. His life becomes complicated when his ex-wife, Karen Zariakas, played by Hathaway, comes asking for Baker’s aid. She needs him to help her and her young teenage son, Patrick, played by Rafael Sayegh, escape from the domestic violence of her new husband. To get away, she asks Baker to kill her husband, Frank Zariakas, played by Jason Clarke, on Baker’s boat.
Both McConaughey and Hathaway, who previously starred together in the Oscar-winning film “Interstellar,” impress the audience with strong performances in “Serenity.” Viewers feel the charm and determination McConaughey exhibits as a captain through Baker.
When Baker begins to realize that there is something strange taking place on Plymouth Island, though, McConaughey excellently portrays the conflicted and stunned emotions needed of Baker in that moment.
As Baker’s ex-wife asking for his help, Hathaway exceptionally plays the role of a frightened woman desperately begging her ex-husband to save her and her son from the miserable abyss that they are dealing with. Hathaway was able to expertly craft her character through the small and low tone of her voice, her shaky and scared eyes and her facial expressions.
Put together, McConaughey’s and Hathaway’s acting shows the entirety of their characters’ thoughts and emotions at every moment.
Aside from the individual performances by McConaughey and Hathaway, however, the film does not have a lot to offer. The overall plot of the film seemed inorganic in many aspects. For example, Karen suddenly deciding to find Baker and appear in front of him seemed too bizarre to be the natural beginning of the film’s central conflict.
The addition of the fishing company representative Reid Miller, played by Jeremy Strong, seemed too out of line with the film, never proving enough to the audience that his existence was necessary to make the film progress smoothly.
Moreover, Knight implements an important twist during the film to enrich the complex story of Baker’s journey. This twist, however, fails to actually develop or enhance the overall story of the film. It instead makes an already complicated and tedious plot even more confusing.
When that twist comes in midway through the film, it significantly influences the whole structure and framework of the movie’s plot. Knight may have thought that incorporating such a plotline would dazzle his audiences, but it seemed to have just the opposite effect, making them tilt their heads in confusion even more.
The poorly executed plot twist of “Serenity” also makes the ending so predictable that most viewers could likely foresee it long before the actual ending of the movie. Setting that twist midway through the film prepared the movie’s audience for only one specific conclusion.
The inclusion of this twist then creates a rather significant negative effect on the audience’s expectations of the caliber of a film that boasts such a famous cast. Naturally, the ending greatly lowered any of the small instances of tension built up within the viewers by the weak plot, leaving an even weaker final impression on the audience.
Overall, “Serenity” is a disappointing film with plenty of room for improvement. Though both McConaughey and Hathaway impress, the film’s unrealistic plot development, clunky twists and easily foreseeable ending will definitely leave its audience’s high expectations unfulfilled.