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Review: Serenity

Serenity
4 10

PLOT: A fishing boat captain (Matthew McConaughey) who’s hiding out on a remote island, is approached by his ex-wife (Anne Hathaway) who tries to convince him to murder her new, abusive husband.

REVIEW: SERENITY is an oddball outing. How does a star-studded, steamy drama from an acclaimed director (LOCKE’s Steven Knight) wind-up coming out with such little buzz? I’ll admit, the early trailers for SERENITY had me jazzed, being a major fan of both leads. I’m particularly enthusiastic about nourish erotic thrillers, being a big fan of classic outings like DOUBLE INDEMNITY, and more recent ones like BODY HEAT and BASIC INSTINCT and I’ve always thought it was a genre ripe for rediscovery.

Knight clearly has movies like this in mind, with Matthew McConaughey the sweaty, stressed-out everyman on the run, and Hathaway sporting a newly blonde look to make her into a femme fatale. SERENITY had a lot of promise, but it doesn’t take long for the whole thing to go awry. Everything feels so cliché, you just know Knight’s going to lob some big twist at his audience, and indeed this has one that’s revealed relatively early that changes the genre of the film, making it a huge bait and switch that’ll likely rub most audiences the wrong way.

I’ll give this to Knight, he takes a big swing with this one. Had it gone over, he might have had a classic on his hands, but what he tries to do is so out-of-left-field the movie never recovers from it, leaving the whole thing feeling half-baked. As such, you’re really only left with the performances to hold your attention, but nobody’s doing their best work here. McConaughey, Hathaway and Jason Clarke are all playing broad types – unavoidable thanks to the post-modern twist, but it makes the film hard to take seriously. McConaughey especially has some over-the-top moments of emoting that call to mind late-era Nicolas Cage, and he’s not the kind of larger-than-life personality who can pull this off.

I’ll give SERENITY this – it’s ambitious. So ambitious in fact that one wonders why Knight opted to give the film the same title as Joss Whedon’s still popular ‘Firefly” sequel, dooming this to always come up second in movie guides when people look up the name. He’s made a film that’s pretty to look at, with gorgeous scenery courtesy of the Mauritius location. The cast is uniformly attractive as well, with McConaughey back in beefcake mode, Hathaway looking great, and a still stunningly beautiful Diane Lane as Matt’s island lover. Even the old-salt first mate, which would have been played by a guy like Walter Brennan in the forties, is the jacked Djimon Hounsou – this island is populated exclusively by the good looking it seems – although this twist actually makes sense given the surreal place it goes.

Of course, I’m aware of how vague this all reads, but truth be told I had to sign an embargo promising not to give away the big twist – which is understandable. I bet if I revealed it, half of you would vow right now not to ever see the movie, while others would be attracted by what a train wreck it would now have the potential to be. It really does wind up being something of a disaster, despite everyone’s best efforts. It’s an interesting failure – but a failure nonetheless.

Source: JoBlo.com

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