The movie Serenity, which stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, is one roller coaster of a movie from start to finish. It is a movie that grapples with the concept of right versus wrong and the concept or real and not real. Despite hearing numerous mixed reviews about the movie, I decided to go see it for myself and see what it was all about. While the movie is bizarre, I am glad that I went to see the movie for myself to form my own opinion on it – because if you like authentically unusual movies, then this one is for you.
Baker Dill (McConaughey) is the captain of fishing boat that takes tourists out on the open see off of the peaceful island known as Plymouth Island. He appears to be living a quiet and routine lifestyle, however, that is all shattered when his ex-wife, Karen (Hathaway) manages to track him down and reaches out to him with a plea of help. She begs Baker to save her, and their son, Patrick, from her new and abusive husband named Frank by taking him out to sea for a fishing excursion and only to kill him and feed his body to the sharks. The sudden appearance of Karen forces Baker back into a life that he has gone through great lengths to put behind him and forget about, and he begins to struggle between what is right and what is wrong while his world is thrown into a reality that may not be what is seems.
The movie has a huge plot-twist midway through that ultimately destroys all of the dramatic tension that was created throughout the first half of the film once you realize that nothing that happens to the characters or within the story matters. The plot twist was that McConaughey’s character, Baker Dill died in Iraq while serving his country and that the entire plot of the movie is actually a video game that his son, Patrick created as a means of escaping the harsh reality of his and his mother’s situation with the abusive stepfather. The video game element became more evident once the dialogue from the smaller characters became more stiff, which caused them to feel more like non-playable characters (NPCs). While the plot twist is a clever variation of an old trick, it unfortunately reduces the rest of the movie into an intellectual exercise.
Contrary to the negative reviews I have heard about the movie, I rather liked it – though the plot was sort of collapsing in on itself and unnecessarily confusing to follow. The main reason I liked the movie is because it is one of those movies that you need to watch several times to catch all of the details that indicate what the plot twist is going to be. In fact, thinking back on the movie, there were a number of little moments and details that were pointing to the twist of the false reality.
Another reason I liked the movie is because it did not end how I thought it was going to. I tend to enjoy movies that do not end how you think they are going to. About one-third of the way through the movie, I began to suspect the Baker Dill was not alive but I did not expect the movie to end with Patrick stabbing his abusive stepfather in an act of self-defense for himself and his mother.
Overall, I give the movie a solid 3/5 because I appreciate what it was attempting to do with its major plot twist. The thing holding it back from a higher rating from me is because its plot twist was not executed as well as it could have been in my opinion. Instead of it being made known half way through the movie that the reality the characters are in is not real, it should have been saved for closer to the end of the movie.