Serenity (review)

Last year, I saw a preview for a Matthew McConaughey thriller (I assume it was a thriller) called Serenity.

I never really saw the film open, it might have and I missed it. Anyway, I haven’t seen much of McConaughey in recent years, other than his Lincoln car commercials and True Crime on HBO.  He had a very productive period in 2013-2014 with True Crime, Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street and Interstellar.  His projects after that have been less than stellar and actually quite puzzling.  His career had been somewhat shakey before that, between The Lincoln Lawyer and Dallas Buyers Club, he had a number of misfires and duds.  Remember Mud or Magic Mike?  I didn’t think so, nothing to see there.

The preview for Serenity looked rather hokey, but it seemed to be a big production with the several major stars attached. I was flipping around Prime and there it was. Hmmm. So quickly after its release, not a good sign.

I’m debating whether to renew Prime, so I’m trying to watch a lot of it, and while I was home sick, I took a chance on Serenity.

Young Matthew is not the young stud anymore, he’s middle age (51) now, but he’s managed to stay in shape and hold back most of the years.  Actually, we should all look that good.

As I was watching  the film, I immediately began to identify older movies that Serenity was borrowing from. Double Indemnity, Key Largo and even Jumanji. Really? Yep.

If you don’t go to the movies or watch TV, you’ll think Serenity is the most original movie you’ve seen in the past week.

Writer/director Steven Knight, known for much better films, doesn’t really do a very good job of building tension.  He wrote the excellent Thomas Hardy film, Locke, which takes place in a car.  Yes, the entire film is a man driving and talking on the phone. In Serenity, Knight telegraphs what Young Matthew will do, and he doesn’t let you down.

Anne Hathaway sort of plays a cross between Lauren Bacall and Barbara Stanwyck. Except she’s a hot dame with no flame. She might have read the wrong script.

Young Matthew is a drunken horndog who frequently beds Diane Lane and gets paid for it! No way. Yes, way. Diane Lane, who is totally wasted in this role, has no real purpose in this film, and that’s a shame.  I guess her purpose is to remind us that she is a beautiful woman who can act all of these people under the table.

Young Matthew is supposed to kill his old girlfriend’s abusive husband, and get $10 million dollars for it. Everyone wants to pay Young Matthew. Sex, murder, and even fishing. So why is he always broke?

Young Matthew finally agrees to kill the husband, or he lets the fish do it, he just baits the hook and lets nature take its course. Young Matthew bones his old girlfriend, but that’s not why he agrees to kill her husband, he doesn’t even want her.

Here’s where the film gets really weird, Young Matthew figures out that his son, by his old girlfriend, is actually controlling all of them through a computer game he invented. The characters respond to his moves in the game. So everything is really just a fantasy. The boy, in reality murders his abusive stepfather, and Young Matthew, his real father, has actually died serving his country as a Marine.

See how this all fits together, it was all the boy’s imagination to work up the courage to kill an abusive man to save his mother and himself.

The film is long on tropical island style and aroma, but short on believably.

Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke and Djimon Hounsou, all fine actors, are pretty much wasted in the film.

I read that when the film was shown to test audiences they pretty much said the film sucked.  The producers decided to cut their losses and didn’t promote the film, so it died a quick death at the box office and went to streaming services, where I was fishing.

Young Matthew tries very hard to bring some interest to the story, but the film he read on paper and the one that ended up in the camera, were two distant ships.

I sincerely hope that McConaughey picks better films in the future, he’s a fine actor, and the clock is running on his youthful attributes.  In the meantime.


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