Though Serenity is blessed with a goofily enjoyable high concept, it doesn’t exploit it very effectively. You can make the viewers detectives themselves, allowing us to slowly unravel a mystery, or you can give up the charade early and just run with the premise you’ve opted not to conceal very carefully. There’s little sense in doing neither.
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From its intense beginnings to its what-really-c’mon-no-reallllllly-c’mon mid-film twist to its defiantly and successfully sentimental finale, the new Matthew McConaughey vehicle is playing by its own demented rules. When it deigns to care about rules.
It wants to be trashy, pulpy fun that toys with your mind and your expectations. Sadly, it just ends up insulting both.
The fact that it’s a Razzie contender, of course, is no reason not to see it. In fact it could be an inducement — Razzie movies can be quite fun.
The big reveal at the end of the second act is absurd enough to pump some adrenaline into the third act, but the movie drags on too long afterwards.
Conceptually ambitious and sporadically entertaining but more often confusing and ultimately kind of dumb, Serenity must have seemed appealingly high-minded on the page. But the zigzagging new thriller lands with a thud despite a skilled cast and writer/director Steven Knight’s commendable desire to scribble outside the lines of conventional narrative.
The oily slick of sin across the surface of this film isn’t what makes it wickedly fun; it’s the utter devotion to its bonkers twist, at once defying logic and good taste. Serenity knows it’s trash, but that’s not to say that it’s not entertaining trash.
The twist is, yes, audacious, even daring. It’s full of risk and defiance of expectation. So half a star for that. Steven Knight, you’ve got some nerve. But none of those things mean that the movie works.
The atmosphere in Serenity, by design, imparts a slightly uneasy and hermetic feeling. In Baker Dill, who sounds like a line of gourmet pickles, Knight has the makings of a compellingly messed-up antihero. That’s a start. If movies were all start, then this one might’ve worked.
The spiritual angle in Serenity is just one of the many elements making this one of the most ambitious, one of the most challenging — and one of the most entertaining thrillers in recent years.