‘Serenity’ Review — Steven Knight’s Neo-Noir is Wildly Ambitious and Wildly Uneven

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

Serenity Review

On a secluded tropical island blood is in the water and the sharks are circling. In writer-director’s Steven Knight neo-noir Serenity, predators are always in search of prey though nothing is quite what it seems. Serenity is a fascinating films at times and frustrating at others. It’s a film that has trouble coalescing into a captivating whole. However, even though I think the film doesn’t work overall Steven Knight really goes for it with one of the most audacious twists of recent memory. Serenity is a ballsy work, just one that doesn’t come together as intended.

Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) is a fishing boat captain living in paradise. He makes his living taking tourists out on his fishing boat with his first-mate Duke (Djimon Hounsou). But Baker Dill is headstrong and stubborn, and his determination often undermines his business. When he’s not on the high seas, he’s having an affair with Constance (Diane Lane). With the bank threatening to repossess his boat, the pressures are mounting for the flailing fisherman. An unexpected lifeline comes into his life in the form of Karen (Anne Hathaway), his ex-wife and the mother of his son Patrick (Rafael Sayegh). Karen has married Frank (Jason Clarke), an abusive drunk with plenty of money. She has a simple proposition: Take Frank fishing, get him drunk, and push him overboard for the sharks to tear apart. For this, Baker will receive ten million dollars in cash.

The set up for Serenity feels like any number of neo-noirs, but it made me think of the work of James M. Cain and his classic tale The Postman Always Rings Twice. Knight is clear in establishing Baker Dill’s desperation to the point where murder for hire seems like a viable plan. However, the writer-director is toying with expectations. What at first seems like a neo-noir set in paradise takes a wild turn that nobody could possibly predict when Baker Dill encounters a mysterious character named Reid Miller (Jeremy Strong). The information that this bespectacled man of mystery gives to Baker flips everything on its head – the characters, the story, and how the audience interacts with the film. It doesn’t work but it’s a bold, uncompromising choice that you have to respect for its brazen audacity.

Serenity is like a movie that’s split in two very different parts. The first being an homage to so many classic noirs and the other being an ambitious existential crisis that invites the audience and the characters to question the very nature of reality. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if at theaters nationwide there’s a collective screaming of “WHAT?!?” whenever the film gets to its big twist.

Serenity is like a movie that’s split in two very different parts. The first being an homage to so many classic noirs and the other being an ambitious existential crisis that invites the audience and the characters to question the very nature of reality. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if at theaters nationwide there’s a collective screaming of “WHAT?!?” whenever the film gets to its big twist.

The cast delivers solid work in spite of the film’s uneven plotting. McConaughey is at home in a tropical setting, the star’s face almost custom made to be tanned and dripping sweat beside a crystal clear ocean. Anne Hathaway is strong in the dual role of the damsel in distress and femme fatale, giving an ambiguous sense to her character’s true nature. As the brute drunkard Frank, Jason Clarke is truly menacing. But Knight’s film struggles to find a flow between these elements, and that’s mostly because it’s just so wildly ambitious that it can’t really focus on one particular element for too long.

Serenity is gorgeous to look at with its beautiful scenery of Mauritius Island captured by cinematographer Jess Hall. The unreal beauty of the location amplifies the film’s uneasy reality. However, it just never sizzles. Serenity is just a film that’s always simmering. While I don’t think the film works, I have nothing but the utmost admiration for Knight sticking to his guns and really going for an unconventional second half to his film that buck convention at every turn and in every sense. Too bad, though, that Serenity’s brazen ambition doesn’t culminate into much more than a bold curiosity that will get lost in a sea of redundancy.

Serenity
  • Overall Score
2

Summary

A bold, ambitious neo-noir, Steven Knight’s Serenity never plays its safe but it fails to coalesce into a captivating drama despite its wildly unpredictable twists.

YogaOutlet.com

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
The Street Fighter Collection
Shout! Factory is Unleashing ‘The Street Fighter’ Collection on Blu-ray

What do you think of when you hear The Street Fighter?...

Donnybrook Review
‘Donnybrook’ Review — A Brutal Journey Into America’s Violent Heart

In director Tim Sutton’s adaptation of Frank Bill’s novel Donnybrook, positive...

Long Shot Trailer
Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron Aim for the Oval Office in the Trailer for ‘Long Shot’

The impending hell that will be the 2020 presidential campaign has...

Event News Event Reviews
WhiskyX
WhiskyX is Coming back to Los Angeles January 25, 2019

WhiskyX, the cross country whisky discovery platform, is coming back to...

Alt 98.7 Presents Big Adventure: Music, Comedy & Comic Con Festival, Nov 3-4 in Orange County

In less than a month, Alt 98.7 Presents Big Adventure makes its debut,...

The 9th Annual Brew HA HA Craft Beer Photo Gallery

Photos by FanboyNation Craft Beer Expert, Dave Warner.

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Taco Bell Xbox
The Newest Taco Bell Box is an Xbox – Your Chance to Win a Taco Bell Xbox

Taco Bell and Xbox are partnering up to give fans a chance...

Exclusive Track Premiere from Madden NFL 19!

(July 26, 2018 – Los Angeles, CA) – Lakeshore Records today...

Star Ocean Anamnesis
8.0/10
The Most Intuitively Fun Gameplay of Any Mobile RPG – Star Ocean Anamnesis Review

Star Ocean Anamnesis is hands down the most fun and intuitive gameplay...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Stan Lee, the Co-Creator of the Marvel Universe, Dead at 95

According to reports earlier today, Stanley Martin Lieber aka Stan the...

Five Questions for Gary Morgenstein About ‘A Mound Over Hell’

Gary Morgenstein is a journalist, public relations expert and author with...

Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel Revealed

Dark Horse reveals new original Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Wrestle Crate Pre-Christmas Unboxing

    Welcome to our first unboxing of Wrestle Crate, this...

Eagle Eyes
Protect Your Eyes with Eagle Eyes Glasses – Eagle Eyes TV Kit Review

Eagle Eyes TV Kit review – Feel the difference and get...

Nooligan Talks About His New DC Collectibles Batman Family Line

Visual Artist Nooligan uses the influences of his First Nation ancestry along...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Bellator 214 Full Results

Los Angeles, CA – Bellator MMA returns to The Forum as,...

WOW – Women Of Wrestling Episode 2 Full Results

WOW – Women of Wrestling hit the ground running on AXS...

SMASH Global Honors Dolph Lundgren, ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley & Lou Ferrigno Dec. 13 in LA

From SMASH Global – HOLLYWOOD – Dec. 3, 2018 – SMASH...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the world wide web… of lies! Pt ?

Yet another episode in the Harry Potter and the... arc!

Cultural Junkdrawer Presents: The (kinda) NSFW 2019 AVN Awards photo recap PT 2

Part two of the Photo essay covering the 2019 AVN Awards!...

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the world wide web… of LIES!

Harry just did the nuclear option in convincing Ron not to...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Coastal Commoners Ep. 9 Happy Thanksgiving!

This week the Commoners discuss some race baiting issues that bothered...

Coastal Commoners Ep 8 – Saying Farewell to Stan Lee

This week the commoner’s say farewell to Marvel Comics legend, Stan...

Coastal Commoners Ep 7 Mid-Term Elections!

Oh the headaches of elections and what can go wrong. We...

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
They Live Vinyl Soundtrack
BUY! Mondo and Death Waltz to Reissue John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’ Soundtrack on Vinyl

Yesterday was the 71st birthday of the great John Carpenter and...

Deadpool 2 Vinyl Giveaway!

We are giving away a copy of Deadpool 2 Score Soundtrack on...

Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...