Serenity 2019 ***

Matthew McConaughey’s attempts to destroy his own considerable reputation as an Oscar-winning actor reach Nicolas Cage levels with writer/director Steven Knight’s Serenity, a twisty-turny sea-bound thriller that jumps the shark in brain-bending style. The trailers promise a straightforward Dead Calm murder-mystery, with the star as Baker Dill, a sea-captain eeking out a living on his boat Serenity in and around the posh resort of Plymouth Island. Femme fatale Karen (Anne Hathaway) seems to be luring him into something, but what? When Karen’s boorish husband Frank (Jason Clarke) turns up, Baker Dill sees a chance to set Karen free, but is she all that she seems? Once the final twist of Serenity has unspooled, audiences are likely to feel that none of the characters are what they seem, and not in a good way. Without giving the game away, Baker Dill’s discovery that not only he nor the world he lives in are real creates far more questions that it answers. Films like The Magus or Jacob’s Ladder have toyed with the nature of reality, but the over-heated melodrama in Serenity gives way to abstract cosmic ruminations in a glib, silly way that should provoke mirth in all those unlucky enough to set sail in with her crew.


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