'Serenity' (2019) Movie Review
I’m So Glad I Went To the Theater to See This
Okay readers, I want for you all to strap yourselves in because I’m going to take you on a little journey of the day that I saw… Serenity. So to start off, I didn’t get much sleep the previous night. No particular reason, I just couldn’t sleep until about six in the morning and then for no reason, again, I woke up right before ten in the morning. Throughout the rest of the day I was a zombie. I was barely keeping my eyes open and had several micro naps until about 5:30 p.m. During that time my mother offered a chance for us to go out and see a movie and we decided on checking out… Serenity. From the stylishly edited trailers I had seen I thought it looked like a decent little thriller and I always love Matthew McConaughey, I was slightly concerned about the fact that it was coming out in January; which is the dumping month for cinema, but I thought it’ll still probably be fine. But as time grew closer and closer to that 7:30 screening of… Serenity, I kept thinking to myself, “There’s no way I’m going to be able to stay awake during this movie. There’s no way, unless it is a masterpiece of thrillers I am probably going to doze off in this one. Crap!” We made it to my local cinema, my eyes still feeling heavy as we sat inside that dark theater, but I was trying very hard to stay as alert as I possibly could. Then the first scene happened… and wouldn’t you know it, my eyes widened with glee as it turned out that I was right. I came across a masterpiece alright, but not of thrillers like one would think. Oh no, my friends, that’s not the case at all. No, no, no. This was a masterpiece of ‘what the f*ck?!’. I was entranced by the bizarre decisions and baffling turns this film would take. I had no clue where this thing was going, but dear god was I along for the ride. As every bat sh*t insane scene went by, a grin on my face would simply grow bigger and bigger as it kept going with its story that made no sense while every single actor took this 100% seriously and that only made the experience that much juicier. I relished in Serenity’s craziness. I fed off of it like a starving leach as it filled me with energy and excitement as I questioned what in the hell I was even watching. I practically felt like I was making love with this movie, and it felt so good.
I May Need Help…
Now, many of you may be wondering, “What is wrong with you, John? You need help”. You might be right there, my fellow readers. Here’s the thing. I don’t care. I loved this terrible movie. I adored the balls it had to go places that no movie has the right to go without making sense. This movie does not care about your rules, it does not care what makes sense. It’s mother f*cking Serenity. It abides by no laws! It is a free spirit of insanity and I’m here to go in-depth about it. So if you are the least bit curious about seeing Serenity and don’t want anything spoiled for you, and trust me when I say that you don’t want anything spoiled for you, stop reading now and go to your nearest theater and buy your ticket to Serenity. Then come back and read my review. I’m serious, there is no way I can discuss this movie properly without bringing up a major twist that happens halfway into the movie. Not at the end. The twist is literally at about the halfway mark and it takes up a bulk of the plot after it is brought into play. May this be your final warning, I won’t be saying it again. *SPOILER ALERT* from here on out.
From the trailers, the plot seemed extremely straight-forward as a sexual/psychological thriller about a man (Matthew McConaughey) living out on a tropical island that is propositioned by a woman (Anne Hathaway) to kill her husband and he will be paid handsomely as a reward. Simple enough, right? Oh no. That’s not quite all there is here. Okay. How do I describe this plot… this will be tough because I want to save a certain delicious detail for later in my review. The only way I can talk about the film is by bringing up the plot points as they happened chronologically.
So Matthew McConaughey is obsessed with catching a giant tuna fish. I mean, to the point of pulling a knife on a man for even trying to take control of his fishing rod when McConaughey is attempting to reel the fish in. That is the opening scene, by the way. McConaughey takes wealthy guys out on the waters to catch some big fish, but there’s a specific tuna fish that he has been tracking down and trying to catch apparently for years. Practically being on the level of obsession of Captain Ahab as he literally pulls a large blade out to threaten these men so they don’t impede on his quest to reel in the big tuna… this is the focus of the movie for approximately the first twenty, maybe even close to thirty minutes. McConaughey being completely fixated on a need to catch this fish to the point where he is actually a gigolo on the side in order to afford his fishing trips in search of the giant tuna. Or as his character so elegantly puts it, he’s a hooker with no hooks. What?! And that plot thread doesn’t go away either, it actually still remains extremely relevant to the rest of the narrative for this character.
Once the second act starts kicking in, the plot about a woman with her deadly offer is finally introduced; Anne Hathaway plays McConaughey’s ex-wife and begs for him to kill her current husband for ten million dollars in return. A man who is physically abusive towards Hathaway and her son, who is also McConaughey’s son as well. Which, I would like for you to keep in mind that the film from the very start inter-splices clips of their son into the movie, mainly sitting in his dimly lit room playing a video game on his computer. Trust me, this comes into play later.
As the second act unfolds, McConaughey refuses his ex-wife’s offer for he is more interested in the almighty tuna fish. And having sex for money. And trying to find one of his ‘special’ lady customer’s cat. And getting into arguments with his business partner about how he’s bad luck for catching fish ever since the partner’s wife died. Then it turns out that McConaughey may have a psychic connection with his son as they start to communicate with one another through spilt water… Yes, let me assure that you did read that correctly. I can’t make this stuff up. I’m being dead serious, after Matthew McConaughey strips down naked and jumps off a cliff into the sea, he sees a vision of his son in the water as he swims deeper and deeper down. McConaughey abruptly wakes up inside his house, sitting at his kitchen table and he discovers that there is a small amount of water that has been spilled on it. He reaches his hand to the water and starts to spread it around. Cut to his son sitting in his bedroom at the computer, on his desk there is a small amount of spilled water as well and he mimics his father as they both seem to be able to somewhat speak to each other as this is happening with them both simultaneously. Then cut back to McConaughey needing to get that damn fish again! I had no clue what in the world I was witnessing, but know that I was watering at the mouth with the biggest sh*t eating grin you’ve ever seen in your life while it was happening.
About Halfway Through...
Now we are somewhere in the middle of the movie’s runtime where all this stuff about McConaughey needing to catch a giant tuna fish like it’s his next fix for heroin, there are scenes of Anne Hathaway being beaten by her husband with his belt because she had a scratch on her leg and must always refer to him as ‘daddy’, a random subplot about a woman’s missing cat as the cat pops up everywhere in town, and McConaughey’s son playing video games in a dark room with background noises of his step-father beating the crap out of his mom. After much needed hate-sex between McConaughey and Hathaway, McConaughey reluctantly accepts her offer to kill her husband and demands to see his son in addition to the ten million dollars that she has promised. On top of all this other stuff going on, there is also a strange and lanky man in a suit that has been constantly trying to speak with McConaughey this whole movie. Randomly showing up on shore and walking into the water in his full attire, running after his boat on the docks as he becomes concerned about being twenty seconds late in missing his chance, appearing on busses to stare McConaughey down, etc. Finally this man gets his chance as he arrives at McConaughey’s doorstep in the middle of the night as a tropical storm brews. And what was all this chase for, you may ask? Well to sell Matthew McConaughey a fish finder of course! That’s right. This man has been running all around town like a madman so he can sell a fish finder. But not just any fish finder, this one is special. This is guaranteed to catch the one that he’s been looking for. The big one. Or as he calls it… ‘Justice’.
Now why was all this such a big deal? Well, you see. Matthew McConaughey turns out to be a literal character living inside of a video game and this lanky business suit man is the personified human form of the video game’s rules in order to keep McConaughey from murdering his ex-wife’s dirtbag husband because murder is not allowed in this game’s world. It’s against the rules… I. Am. Not. Joking. And no, you’re not having a stroke and reading gibberish. This happens in the film. Matthew McConaughey is a digital creation that this boy has made to replicate his own biological father. This boy has somehow managed to manipulate the code of this video game in order to create an artificial intelligence of his own dad and has crafted this world and story where he apparently includes his actual mother and abusive step-father where the son is begging for his digital dad to murder his digital step-dad. All because in reality the boy is contemplating actually killing his real step-father right after he makes sure that his digi-dad kills the fake step-father. I know I sound like I just got high and made all of this up, but I’m being completely serious when I tell you that this freaking happened. And you would think that after the reveal of this all being fake and not even really mattering, that the focus would shift on what was happening with the boy in reality more, but no. You’d be wrong. Dead wrong. The McConaughey murder plot line where you literally know that this doesn’t make a lick of difference at all with how it all ends up because it’s a video game, it keeps going and it holds a straight-face the whole time too. It does not bat an eye at how utterly insane this is and the fact that even though this isn’t real, they will still let the story play out as McConaughey is actually more determined than ever before to kill this guy because his son wants him to. Even though McConaughey has now learned that he and his whole world is a lie, is entirely fake and he’s nothing more than a bunch of pixels on a kid’s computer monitor, he is committed to finishing the mission to kill another group of pixels that represents a piece of trash in real life but doesn’t matter if this version lives or dies since it has no bearing on his son’s actual existence since the son has already decided at this point to stab his actual step-father in the chest… I feel like I just got ‘Inception-ed’.
But Wait… There’s More!
The climax is centered around Matthew McConaughey’s character needing to make the decision to either reel the giant tuna fish in that he’s been looking for all of these years or to kill the digital representation of the man that in reality beats his wife and son. This brought me so much joy watching that unfold. With both stories wrapping up, the fake reality having McConaughey and Hathaway strap her drunken husband into the fishing rod that is being pulled by the giant fighting tuna fish, which yanks him down into the darkest depths of the ocean. Then in the actual reality McConaughey’s son just stabs the step-dad in the chest and is tried for second degree murder, but is let off the hook since he and his mom were abused. Now that both step-papas have bitten the dust, the boy calls his digital daddy on a payphone and says that he is going to “change the game” so that they may be together again. So after everything surrounding Matthew McConaughey turns into thousands of CGI shapes, we transition to the son on his computer witnessing a digital version of himself running in slow motion towards his digi-dad and they finally reunite in a big embrace after all this time apart from one another. Just showing that true love between a father and son can never be broken and only strengthened through the killing of an alcoholic wife-beater. Brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.
I’m Calling It Right Now, Best Film of 2019.
I loved Serenity so much. This made me question my own sanity as it made left turn after left turn after throwing a fridge at my head. This movie makes no sense. There’s not a single solitary moment that is even remotely normal. Matthew McConaughey is acting with maximum effort here for a script written by someone completely off their meds. Everyone gives this movie their all in the acting department, which only adds to the ‘what the f*ck’ of it all. This holds a straight-face after a twist that literally breaks its own reality. And god damn it, Serenity, I applaud you. I applaud you for giving me something I was not expecting in the slightest and turning everything that I know on its head. This is not a good film. Do not mistake my love for Serenity for being genuine. Know that I am being a jackass and enjoying a screenplay that feels like it was not written in our world. There is more things about the movie that I left out that also made me scratch my head with so many questions, but I think I got the majority of the insanity here. I laughed maniacally like a crazed hyena walking out of that theater, for one reason being the experience of the film itself and second being the reactions my mother also had watching this thing just trying to figure out what in the world she was seeing as she pieced together in anger what her life has turned into. This was beautiful. A beautiful mess that I ate right up. I ate up every second of the absurdity, I could not get enough of it. It was so good in how bad it was. I need a Serenity 2 right now. Make this the greatest video game franchise ever, we have struck gold here and dammit I have to have more! This was a fishing video game that apparently had ten dollar hookers, bars, fancy hotels, and lost cats? Give me a cooking game for the sequel, who knows what that may hold in store!
Even this director, Steven Knight, perplexes my reality with his career as he seems to be trying to hit every mark in quality with his films; Redemption being rather forgettable and boring, Locke being extremely emotionally riveting, and Serenity being something I will recall on my death bed and smile. The movie isn’t even called Serenity because of any moral from the story or anything like that, it was apparently the name of McConaughey’s boat which I didn’t realize until the final minutes of the movie. Nice. So in case you haven’t guessed, I recommend Serenity… oh yes. This is a film that needs to be seen to be believed. You will not know what true happiness is until you experience the beauty that is… Serenity. Seriously, I had a frikkin’ blast during this movie. I sat their in confusion and delight for two hours straight, ninety minutes of which I had to pee pretty bad. That didn’t matter. Nothing else mattered. I was hypnotized by the chaotic world inside of Serenity. I sat in my seat totally in awe of everything even though I didn’t know or understand why anything was happening, but I was so glad that it was. Because it was all happening for me. This was made all for me. It loves me. And I love it. It’s my… big tuna fish. And I gotta have it. Alright, alright, alright… I bet you waited the whole review to see if I was going to make that reference, huh? I hope you liked it. Now if you will excuse me, I have to start a Kickstarter campaign for Serenity 2 immediately.
Have you seen SERENITY?
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© 2019 John Plocar