As the likes of Netflix and Amazon, and soon Disney, tear up the traditional movie rule book and invest in their own big budget productions, whether from scratch or buying them for distribution, Sky Cinema does not want to be left behind.
Its latest release is the brain child of writer and director Steven Knight, who has previously brought us Locke with Tom Hardy and the acclaimed BBC drama series Peaky Blinders.
Knight has scaled up for Serenity taking his crew to Mauritius to point their cameras at Matthew McConaughey (“White Boy Rick“, “The Dark Tower“), Anne Hathaway (“Colossal“, “Interstellar”), Diane Lane (“Inside Out”, “Man Of Steel”), Jason Clarke (“First Man“, “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes”) and Djimon Hounsou (“Aquaman“, “Seventh Son“).
Serenity begins as a film that appears to be going nowhere. Please don’t let this be about fishing, was my first thought. But then Jeremy Strong (“Robot & Frank”, “The Big Short“) pops up and a few other clues are dropped in that perhaps all is not as it seems.
Baker Dill (McCounaghey) is a loser who owns a boat. He takes paying tourists off the island to go fishing but he can’t seem to forget one particular fish, a massive tuna that seems to taunt him, as it has previous fishermen from the area.
As his debts mount up and his people skills diminish, he pushes his first mate (Hounsou) away and then an old flame, Karen (Hathaway), arrives on the scene, to really mix things up.
It transpires that Dill and Karen have a kid, Patrick, Rafael Sayegh, but he doesn’t see the kid who now lives with Karen and her new squeeze Frank (Clarke).
Frank is a rich man, all gold watches and big belt buckles, but he’s also a thug who has to have his own way, whether that’s from using his money, or his fists.
Karen turns to her former lover for help, offering him a way out of his money problems if he will do this one thing for her. Whilst Dill doesn’t want to, he may not have a choice, and whilst the town doesn’t want him to, they may not have a choice either. For not everything is as it appears on Plymouth Island.
Serenity takes a while to get going and, whilst it is lovingly shot, that can only go so far. Once it has got going you feel it hits its stride but then it feels like it runs out of steam, fumbling around, all fingers and thumbs, much like Dill gets to do with most of the women in the film.
Whilst McConaughey and Hathaway work well together, pushing and pulling each other in this universe, it’s Clarke and Hounsou who really stand-out.
Clarke gives a fine and gritty performance as the drunk, no-nonsense abusive husband. He’s all money and fists, buying his way to whatever he wants, believing no consequences can come his way.
Hounsou meanwhile is almost the complete opposite. A good friend for Dill, a church going man, gentle and kind, willing and wanting to help as best he can. Sometimes that can mean he appears to stray further than you’d expect for his character but Hounsou handles it well.
Serenity is a delightful idea of a sci-fi film that tries to hide the sci-fi for as long as it can. It’s beautifully shot and well performed but, it feels too long and at times too meandering, like it doesn’t know what it wants to show you, or it is trying to hard to hide the big twist.