Critics Consensus

A high-concept mystery with a twist, Serenity isn't what it appears to be at first -- unfortunately, it's also not anywhere near as clever or entertaining as it thinks.



Total Count: 184


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,214
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Movie Info

From the creative mind of Oscar nominee Steven Knight comes a daringly original, sexy, stylized thriller. Baker Dill (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey) is a fishing boat captain leading tours off a tranquil, tropical enclave called Plymouth Island. His quiet life is shattered, however, when his ex-wife Karen (Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway) tracks him down with a desperate plea for help. She begs Dill to save her -- and their young son -- from her new, violent husband (Jason Clarke) by taking him out to sea on a fishing excursion, only to throw him to the sharks and leave him for dead. Karen's appearance thrusts Dill back into a life he'd tried to forget, and as he struggles between right and wrong, his world is plunged into a new reality that may not be all that it seems.

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Critic Reviews for Serenity

All Critics (184) | Top Critics (39)

Audience Reviews for Serenity

  • Aug 08, 2019
    Yeah the twist is awful, but so is the rest of movie. The dialogue sounds like it was written by a Noir algorithm.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 28, 2019
    Serenity not to be confused with the "Firefly" spin-off movie, is a bizarre and enthralling experience. For every great new entry into the McConaissance, our favorite naked bongo-playing actor has to give us an equally bad flick from the shadow realm to maintain balance in the universe. In the same few months he gave us Moondog in Harmony Korine's The Beach Bum, Matthew McConaughey must have still been vacationing in the Bahama's where he ran into Steven Knight and said "alright, alright, alright" to whatever the director pitched to him in a tequila/prozac-induced stupor. Get a load of this. McConaughey is trying to catch a large tuna fish named "Justice", but he can hear his son talking to him in his head. Then his ex-wife, Anne Hathaway, asks him to kill Jason Clarke (because who doesn't want him dead, amirite? he sucks, and he's in everything). A whole bunch of questionable stuff happens, then McConaughey finds out that his life is weird because he's a video game character. Then he breaks out of the matrix, and I'm not sure but I think he's actually a ghost in the afterlife which is a fishing RPG his son made to deal with his death. The boy codes his abusive stepfather into the game to get McConaughey to kill him so that the boy can get up the courage to actually kill his stepfather in real life. And they do, I think, or something. We live in a society. I have many questions, like, since it's a video game, did the boy code his father's character to be a gigolo for Diane Lane so he can pay his fishing employee? Did the boy make his mom a NPC so Clarke could beat her naked with a belt? Did the boy code his father's character to get naked and jump off a cliff so he could reenact the album cover of Nirvana's "Nevermind"? Did he code his father to bang his mom from behind while she cries? I guess recontextualizing a neo-noir as a metanarrative that bends the rules of time, space, and consciousness can get messy quick, but at least it makes more sense than "Lost". I would highly recommend this one if you love the bizarre movie making missteps of Collateral Beauty or The Book of Henry. It's like "tonal insanity" is a film-genre at this point. I doubt the Coen brothers could even write a line as fitfully absurd as, "You fish for one tuna, man. It's a tuna that's only in your head." Pure Gold.
    Steve L Super Reviewer
  • Mar 16, 2019
    Serenity (NO relation to the Firefly franchise, the ship, or the spin-off movie) is a hard thing to discuss or pin down without going into spoiler territory. Matthew McConaughey is the captain of a fishing boat named Serenity. He lives on a non-descript tropical island with a small, nosy community. Financially strained and subsidizing his meager income by prostituting himself to Diane Lane, his femme-fatale ex-wife (Anne Hathaway) shows up with $10 million dollars that she will give him if he pulls a hit on her new abusive husband. So yes, at first glance it looks like the âsweatyâ? noir-ish thriller/star vehicle that Matthew McConaughey, Diane Lane, and Ashley Judd used to headline back in the 90â(TM)s, two of which are present here. But itâ(TM)s totally not. MASSIVE SPOILER AHEAD. Turns out that itâ(TM)s all a video game created and played by the protagonistâ(TM)s son, as a way to idolize his dead father (GASP!) and work out his own plan to murder his abusive step-father. Yep. Thisâ¦kind of sounds like The Book of Henry doesnâ(TM)t it? But as where that infamous disaster switched tones at will and still wanted to be a saccharine melodrama, Serenity manages a consistent dark and paranoid tone, despite its sci-fi twist. Itâ(TM)s far from perfect. Serenity is messy, absurd, but consistently interesting and well-acted. The âMcConaissanceâ? is pretty much over at this point, but Matthew McConaughey works this movie with the charm and raw gravitas that defines his more recent work. Hathaway has a nice showy turn as a woman with nothing to lose, Diane Lane is always a treasure, and Jeremy Strong leaves an icky impression as a creepy salesman, who pretty much knows heâ(TM)s an NPC and is trying his damnedest to hide his opinion on the matter. Serenity predictably bombed and has the reputation of a misfire, more written about than actually watched. But its oddball story, Hard-R subject matter, and the genre-changing twist may make it a cult classic in future years. Itâ(TM)s worth a look.
    Joshua S Super Reviewer
  • Feb 25, 2019
    I always love when an original concept makes it to the big screen, but sadly, not every original idea will resonate with every viewer. In the case of Serenity, it seems as though many people have chosen to be detached from it in terms of relatability. I admire when filmmakers go out of their way to create a bizarre world that usually would not work, but goes for it anyways. Unfortunately, Serenity is one of the strangest films I have seen in quite some time and also one that I feel is quite terrible as a whole. Although there was an effort to impress here, it failed on many levels and here is why. After a burnout fisherman is approached by his ex-wife, his new mission turns into whether or not he is okay with murdering her new husband, due to his violence toward her and their son. That premise alone works as a movie, but that is about as much as I can say without ruining where the film takes a turn. This is where I admire the filmmakers for trying, even though it did not work at all. The twist that this film delivers may work for a handful of people, but I fear that viewers will most likely laugh once the film reveals what it is truly about. Matthew McConaughey is a fantastic actor and has truly proven his worth throughout the past decade or so. Nominated for numerous awards and appearing in Oscar-nominated films consistently, I always look forward to the next project he chooses to sink his teeth into. While I will not say his performance is fantastic here, he is definitely committed from start to finish. He carries this movie in a dramatic way, but his wacky character feels a little fake at times. He is quite over-the-top here and it almost stood out as a negative to me. On top of this crazy performance, as I mentioned, the twist this film delivers is one of the best and worst twists I have witnessed in years. There is a sense of humour to it for the viewers, but the movie takes everything so seriously that it really collapsed as a whole. This film would have had a lot of potential if it winked at the audience, but it just asked you to buy into the entire premise as if it were real. This aspect of the film alone is what turned me off. I enjoyed watching this film in a weird way, but that does not mean I actually liked the film. In the end, Serenity is a great film to watch if you are a film lover and have someone to watch the film with, while having a few drinks. There were times when I had to question how these filmmakers thought certain plot devices were going to work for the majority of moviegoers because it simply feels ridiculous when the true storyline kicks in. Serenity may end up being on my list of films to never watch from 2019, but it certainly is a memorable one, so take from that what you will.
    KJ P Super Reviewer

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