From seasoned writer & director Steven Knight comes new Sky Original Film ‘Serenity’. It’s a thriller set on the fictitious island of Plymouth and stars Matthew McConaughey as fishing boat captain, Baker. When Baker’s ex-wife Karen, portrayed by Anne Hathaway, shows up out of the blue with a dangerous proposition for him island life doesn’t stay quiet for too long.
The film quickly establishes its lavishly over the top narrative and embraces this extravagant story throughout. It feels like a thriller that would have been right at home in cinemas more than a few decades ago. Whilst it’s hard to take completely seriously, its quick establishment of its somewhat trashy tone alludes to the type of film it is and as a result is thoroughly watchable and quite a lot of fun too. The overall concept for the narrative is ambitious but its execution prevents the film from providing the maximum potential for entertainment. Its more specific plot details also leave the screenplay more vulnerable to scrutiny however to get the most from the film it’s advisable just to strap in and enjoy the ride.
The cast is full to the brim with A-list names, with the aforementioned McConaughey and Hathaway leading the way. McConaughey gives the closest thing to a serious performance you’d find in a more elevated thriller but it works for this more campy style too. Hathaway has some really great tender moments in amongst the otherwise clunky script, alluding to the question of to just why she’s was attracted to this film in the first place? She spends most of her remaining screen time under floppy hats and oversized shades which quickly distract from any quality drama that the film ever so gently touches on thanks to her performance in these softer moments. Nonetheless both of the leads portrayals here are compelling and are in large a main reason for the watch-ability of the film as a whole. Their supporting cast fulfill their roles well, whether that be Jason Clarke’s detestable turn as Karen’s new husband Frank or Djimon Hounsou’s performance as Baker’s trusty second mate Duke, the ensemble is pretty strong across the board. If only the material they had to work with was better.
With clear ambitions to create a more credible thriller ‘Serenity’ gets somewhat lost at cinematic sea pretty early on. However it treads water nicely thanks to the campy, trashy style that it establishes, whether this is intentional or not! It will be too ridiculous for many audiences but those who enjoy the more schlocky, crowd pleasing thrillers of decades past will easily be able to have fun with it. So whilst unmistakably missing the mark it aimed for ‘Serenity’ still manages to deliver an amusing thriller that stays afloat thanks to its fascinating absurdity if nothing else!
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 6/10
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