Serenity is the most WTF movie of the year, maybe of the entire decade
What... What did I just watch?
Let us be frank here.
Serenity is not a good movie.
It is, for all intents and purposes, a very bad movie.
Having said that, it is imperative that you seek it out and watch it immediately, as it is also one of the most off-the-walls, are-you-off-your-medication? bonkers movies you'll ever see.
Things start off reasonably enough: Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey is a fisherman on a sorta-Caribbean island, who tries to make a living taking tourists on fishing trips on his boat, but these invariably get interrupted by the arrival of a giant tuna that he has spent years trying to catch. So... kind of an update on The Old Man And The Sea, except the Old Man is actually a pretty buff middle-aged man who likes getting naked a lot.
One of the places he likes getting naked is with one of the rich island ladies (Oscar-nominee Diane Lane), who he has sex with regularly in exchange for money when he doesn't make enough to put fuel in his boat. Which is quite regularly. We really can't overstate just how much McConaughey gets his butt out in this movie.
Anyways, once you've been watching the movie long enough to think it is about a gigolo tuna-hunter, along comes Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway as his ex-wife, all blonde hair and exhalations. She tells him that her new husband (Oscar show attendee Jason Clarke) is physically abusive to her, and offers him $10 million to take him out on a fishing trip and kill him.
McConaughey's first-mate (Oscar-nominee Djimon Hounsou) tells him it is a bad idea, but that is an awful lot of money, even if Hathaway may be hiding more than she is letting on. So now we're in sexy murder noir territory, a much-maligned sub-genre of movies that can actually be a lot of fun if they're done correctly (see: Body Heat, Basic Instinct, Wild Things), and you suspect that Serenity's Oscar-nominated writer and director Steven Knight - the creator of Peaky Blinders, no less! - would be a safe pair of hands.
And then, about 40 minutes in, something unbelievable happens. Something that will make you think you zoned out for a minute, and accidentally switched on a completely different movie, but one that just happens to have the same cast in the same location...
Clip via Sky Cinema
There is a push-pull of really wanting to spoil what happens, and just wanting any and all new viewers to experience it for themselves brand new.
There must have been a point when all of the Oscar-nominated actors (and Jason Clarke) above were reading the script, and got to the page when stuff starts to go off, and each and every one of them thought to themselves "Yes, this is fine. No problems here. Sign me up!"
It cannot be understated just how bizarre, ludicrous, mind-boggling, hilarious, nonsensical, and downright baffling the plot-twist is. Somewhere out there, M. Night Shyamalan is watching this movie's twist and thinking to himself "Yikes, glad this isn't my movie."
And yet, it is this twist, and the different ways each actor reacts to the new direction the movie takes, that makes it hypnotically watchable. Clarke and Lane both power on admirably, leaning into the crazy, but McConaughey and Hathaway are still ploughing ahead with a laughable level of self-seriousness, as if their performances will lead them back towards the Oscars podium.
The Razzies are more likely, but even that doesn't feel right.
This movie exists in its own world, plays by its own rules, and redefines what you think a bad movie can be. This isn't just a car-crash, it is a car-crash in the middle of tornado, with a tsunami approaching in the background, while everyone around nods in agreement about how profound and amazing it is.
Serenity is in cinemas now, and is also available to stream on Sky Cinema and Now TV.