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Film Review: 'Serenity' Filled With Chaos, Confusion

by Todd A. Smith

 

Matthew McConaughey (left) and Djimon Hounsou star in “Serenity” (Photo Credit: Graham Bartholomew/Aviron Pictures).

 

Anything But Serene 

 

1/2


The dictionary defines serene as undisturbed or calm.


Stress does not fit the definition of serenity.


Violence does not fit the definition of serenity.


Neither does anger, chaos or malice fit the definition of “Serenity.”


But all of those adjectives, plus peculiar, define Matthew McConaughey and Djimon Hounsou’s latest flick, “Serenity.”


In “Serenity,” Baker Dill’s (McConaughey) life has become everything but serene.


His life in the town of Plymouth Island brings him no sense of peace and tranquility whatsoever.


Baker works as a fisherman.


But instead of doing his job and collecting his money, Baker becomes obsessed with catching a huge and elusive tuna that he has named Justice.


The fisherman owns a boat named Serenity and has a trusted and capable first mate in Duke (Hounsou) but still cannot do what is necessary to run a profitable business.


He takes tourists and wannabe fisherman out on the Serenity to fish, charging a hefty fee.


However, when the tourist think they have finally reeled one in, Baker refuses to let them nag their catch, thinking that it might be the elusive Justice that he obsesses over.


Baker even pulls out a knife on a couple of paying customers when he thinks he has finally captured that big tuna that he so desperately wants.


Unfortunately for Baker, word of everything he does travels fast in the nosey and gossiping town of Plymouth.


The residents of Plymouth know that Baker threatened his customers with a knife.


Plymouth residents know that Baker finds himself in dire straits financially.


They know he has a drinking problem.


They also know about his past.


In “Serenity,” Baker’s life began to unravel before he made it to Plymouth Island.


In fact, his life has become so drama-filled that he does not even remember how he got to Plymouth Island, how long he has been there or where it actually is on a map.


Before heading off to fight for his country, Baker had a family.


He had a son by the name of Patrick (Rafael Sayegh) with a childhood sweetheart by the name of Karen (Anne Hathaway).


Although Baker’s life seemed serene after the birth of Patrick, the separation from his family during war created a rift that became almost impossible to bridge upon his return.


While Baker put his life on the line for his country, Karen began a new life with a construction tycoon named, Frank (Jason Clarke).


Despite the fact that Karen’s heart seemed to always remain with Baker, her life remained in Frank’s hand because of his bank account.


Frank simply provided a better financial outlook than Baker could, so she married him and made sure that Baker stayed as far away from her and her son as possible.


For Baker’s part, he did not do much to remain in anybody’s life.


Baker even refuses to get on Facebook, so Karen, Patrick or any of their old friends do not know how to get in contact with.


However, anyone who knows Baker knows that keeping up with the fishing industry is the best way to reconnect with him.


So when a man looking like Baker from a town called Plymouth Island appears in a publication after catching a big fish, Karen thinks she has located her long lost boyfriend.


Although Karen abandoned Baker, she wants to reconnect with him because of the way Frank has been treating her and Patrick.


Frank has become an angry drunk who takes out his frustrations physically on his wife.


Patrick does not want anything to do with his stepfather and stays sequestered in his room working on his computer.


While many kids his age would past time playing video games in their bedroom, Patrick’s teachers think he is genius and he has created a world via his computer in which he can escape the chaos in his home.


Although Patrick has found his escape in “Serenity,” Karen still cannot escape the grasp of an abusive husband and she desperately wants out of her current situation.


Because of that picture, she travels to Plymouth Island hoping to find Baker.


She has set up a fishing vacation for Frank and has arrived a couple of days earlier than her husband to make sure things are planned properly before his arrival.


However, when she actually does find Baker in Plymouth Island her plans for a romantic vacation with her husband suddenly changes.


Karen presents Baker with a proposition.


If he kills her husband while the two are out on a fishing trip, she will give him $10 million.


For a struggling entrepreneur or anyone for that matter, $10 million would set them up financially for a lifetime.


Also, it would free his son Patrick from the torment of an abusive stepfather.


The temptation that Baker faces is intense because he loves his son and would love to become financially stable.


But as Duke tells him in his attempt to deliver Baker from temptation, there is a God and killing someone is not His will.


And if Baker goes through with the murder plot in “Serenity,” he will have to answer to God for his sins one day.


“Serenity” continues Hollywood’s January 2019 routine of bizarre pictures.


The Steven Knight (“Locke”) film “Serenity” continues the trend of eccentric films, but does not pull it off successfully.


“Serenity” will remind moviegoers of the 2010 Leonardo DiCaprio film “Shutter Island,” but does not have the edge of your seat suspense that its predecessor possessed.


And while “Shutter Island” comes off as authentic until the very end, “Serenity” does the opposite.


In “Serenity,” reality seems questionable at best and at the end of the film reality is told to us instead of showed to us as in “Shutter Island.”


Nevertheless, with stars like McConaughey, Hathaway, Hounsou and Clark in “Serenity,” acting performances are not the problem for the film.


The problem with “Serenity” is that it gets off to a slow start with its fishing tales, gets very intriguing in the middle and lets moviegoers down with an anticlimactic conclusion.


And those aforementioned qualities do not totally fit the definition of a spellbinding thriller.

 


REGAL RATINGS

FOUR CROWNS=EXCELLENT

THREE CROWNS=GOOD

TWO CROWNS=AVERAGE

ONE CROWN=POOR

This article was published on Friday 25 January, 2019.
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