A movie for fans of the suspenseful and unusual
“Serenity,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, is one roller coaster of a movie from start to finish.
It is a movie that grapples with the concept of right versus wrong, and the real and make-believe. Despite hearing numerous mixed reviews about the movie, I decided to go see it for myself.
While the movie is bizarre, I am glad that I went to see it for myself to form my own opinion on it — because if you like authentically unusual movies, then this one is for you.
Baker Dill (McConaughey) is the captain of a fishing boat that takes tourists out on the open sea off the peaceful island known as Plymouth Island. He appears to be living a quiet and routine lifestyle, however, that is all shattered when his ex-wife Karen (Hathaway) manages to track him down and reaches out to him with a plea of help.
She begs Baker to save her and their son, Patrick, from her new and abusive husband named Frank. Her solution: have Baker take him out to sea for a fishing excursion only to kill him and feed his body to the sharks.
The sudden appearance of Karen forces Baker back into a life that he has gone through great lengths to put behind him. He begins to struggle between what is right and what is wrong, while his world is thrown into a reality that may not be what it seems.
The movie has a huge plot twist midway through that ultimately destroys all of the dramatic tension that was created throughout the first half. The plot twist was that McConaughey’s character Baker Dill died in Iraq while serving his country and that the entire plot of the movie is actually a video game that his son Patrick created as a means of escaping the harsh reality of his and his mother’s situation with the abusive stepfather.
The video game element became more evident once the dialogue from the smaller characters became stiffer, which caused them to feel more like non-playable characters (NPCs). While the plot twist is a clever variation of an old trick, it unfortunately reduces the rest of the movie into an intellectual exercise.
Contrary to the negative reviews I have heard about the movie, I rather liked it — though the plot was sort of collapsed in on itself and unnecessarily confusing to follow. The main reason I liked it is because it is one of those movies that you need to watch several times to catch all of the details that indicate what the plot twist is going to be. In fact, thinking back on the movie, there were a number of little moments and details that were pointing to the twist of the false reality.
Another reason I liked the movie is because it did not end how I thought it was going to. I tend to enjoy movies that end unpredictably. About one-third of the way through the movie, I began to suspect Baker Dill was not alive, but I did not expect the movie to end with Patrick stabbing his abusive stepfather in an act of self-defense for himself and his mother.
Overall, I give the movie a solid 3 out of 5 stars because I appreciate what it was attempting to do with its major plot twist. The thing holding it back from a higher rating from me is its plot twist was not executed as well as it could have been.
Instead of it being made known halfway through the movie that the characters are not real and actually part of a video game, it should have been saved for closer to the end of the movie.