Serenity (2019) Review

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Serenity now! Serenity now! Serenity now!

Serenity (2019): 8 out of 10: A deep sea charter fisherman Matthew McConaughey is approached by his ex-wife Anne Hathaway to kill her abusive ex-husband Jason Clarke in this neo-noir film

The Good

The Good: Let me start with something that would be heading “The Bad” in almost any other movie. The Island is all wrong. It is just off, and it bothered me to no end during the beginning of the movie. I mean, it seems a weird mix of a New England town named Plymouth and a Caribbean island with fish and features from both locations scattered haphazardly. You have New England lighthouses and crab traps mixed with tropical buildings and palm trees. I would swear there is no possible explanation for such a poor set design.

Well, there is an explanation. A twist so out of left field it would not occur to me in a million years. And this is a neo-noir film, a genre well known for its twists and double-crosses. I am not going to say what the twist is here. It truly is best discovered on one’s own. I will just say I enjoyed it, which certainly seems to put me in the minority of critics and film viewers.

Outside of the twist, there is a lot to recommend to this movie. It is a handsome production with excellent performances from the leads and a lot of little touches that make sense in retrospect.

The Bad

The Bad: You know what? As much as I enjoyed myself, I was looking forward to an old-fashioned neo-noir film with big stars and a Hollywood production budget. Heck, at this point I would take Shannon Tweed level stars and a Canadian production budget. I mean, there have been some great neo-noirs in the past, Mulholland Drive, L.A. Confidential, and Body Heat, to name a few. But name one released in the last fifteen years? Drive maybe and Blade Runner 2049. The pickings are beyond slim. (That movie I keep forgetting I have seen Nightmare Alley certainly fits the bill as well.)

The Ugly

The Ugly: Back on the “I want my Neo-Noir” bandwagon, I wish Serenity went a little harder into the neo-noir in the first bit of the film. I understand from a story point of view why this did not take place, but certainly, the ending could have been a little more in line with a true noir, if you know what I mean.

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: Look I sympathise with people whoo didn’t like Serenity. I really do. Sometimes a movie just hits you the right way. (Don’t get me started on Disney’s The Kid) and sometimes you watch the same film as everyone else and were Um okay… (Donnie Darko).

Still, this is a handsome production that does not fear going all in at the end. I admire the production design, the actors, and most of all the audacity to stick with what you committed to.

I am not saying this is a sign your marriage is in trouble….
Anne Hathaway, being stunning in Serenity, certainly didn’t hurt the score.
There is something about the darkness of the ocean, even in the tropics, that makes a wonderful noir setting.
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In one review of Serenity the critic said McConaughey hadn’t made anything watchable since Dallas Buyers Club and I couldn’t disagree more. Interstellar was fantastic with one of the most memorable scores in movie history thanks to Hans Zimmer, and Free State of Jones for me at least deserves legendary status (along with the actual story/people it’s based off of). It’s a period piece set during the American civil war; at its core it’s really a timeless theme I think most of humanity can empathize with. It wasn’t a “hit” at the box office however, likely because it had very… Read more »