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Review: 'Serenity' drowns McConaughey, Hathaway

Disastrous noir is an early front-runner for Worst Movie of the Year

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway in "Serenity."

“Serenity” no. 

A spectacular misfire from concept to execution, “Serenity” is a howler that won’t soon be forgotten, for all the wrong reasons. Writer-director Steven Knight (the absorbing "Locke") has cooked up a sweaty noir that attracted a decorated cast, all of whom drown in the film's misbegotten mix of sex, murder and fishing metaphors. It’s likely there won't be a worse movie this year.   

Matthew McConaughey plays Baker Dill, a hard-drinking sport fisherman who takes tourists out for deep sea fishing expeditions off Plymouth Island, somewhere off the coast of Florida.

It’s clear there’s darkness in Baker’s past — “I’m just waiting on some things back home to lose their significance,” he says — and those things begin to come into focus with the arrival of Karen (Anne Hathaway in over-exaggerated femme fatale mode), Baker’s ex. She offers Baker $10 million to kill her husband, the abusive Frank (a cartoonishly villainous Jason Clarke), by dumping his body at sea.

Back on land, Baker is part of a small fishing community where everyone knows everyone’s business. Diane Lane is Constance, who doesn’t do much but wait around for her morning trysts with Baker, and Djimon Hounsou is Duke, Baker’s business partner on the boat.

A lot of things have to go wrong for a film to misfire the way “Serenity” does, and all of them happen here. Knight’s unintentionally campy script and direction takes a turn toward the absurd when the film's doozy of a Big Twist arrives, turning what was merely clumsy into utter incoherence. It makes "Serenity" a case study in how things can go off the deep end.




Rated R for language throughout, sexual content, and some bloody images

Running time: 106 minutes