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Film review: Serenity

PUBLISHED: 09:06 07 March 2019

The neo noir thriller Serenity  Picture: ASCOT ELITE

The neo noir thriller Serenity Picture: ASCOT ELITE

Ascot Elite

Mark Goodin finds Matthew McConaughey's latest film disappointing.

Anne Hathaway plays the role of Karen Zariakas  Picture: ASCOT ELITEAnne Hathaway plays the role of Karen Zariakas Picture: ASCOT ELITE

Serenity has the kind of stylish, star-studded appeal that made neo-noirs like Body Heat, The Postman Always Rings Twice and L.A Confidential so popular in the 1980s and 1990s.

While Steven Knight’s film shares the same atmospheric, glossy sheen of those films it is severely lacking their depth and complexity.

Matthew McConaughey plays Baker Dill, a fishing-boat captain who finds himself ensnared in a plot to murder his ex-wife Karen’s (Anne Hathaway) abusive husband Frank (Jason Clarke).

Matthew McConaughey as John Mason  Picture: ASCOT ELITEMatthew McConaughey as John Mason Picture: ASCOT ELITE

Despite a number of over-familiar genre tropes, the director starts his film strongly, generating a palpable sense of menace and intrigue as the booze-addled Baker is drawn into the murderous scheme of Hathaway’s femme fatale, all the while butting heads with the inhabitants of the sinister, sunbaked, reality-bending island on which he resides.

This is all undermined by an M. Night Shyamalan-style second act twist of seismically stupid proportions, that throws the entire film off-kilter and will surely leave audiences wondering how the director, who penned such taught, intelligent thrillers as Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises dreamt up such preposterous twaddle.

Still, the cast delivers strong work - the ever-dependable Clarke turns in an impressively nasty performance - and even the film’s reveal, witless as it is, cannot detract from the fact that the first two acts of Serenity make for engaging, if predictable viewing and prove that there is a fine film lurking in here.

It’s just such a shame about that awful twist.

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