Steven Knight has wonderful things like 'Locke' (2013) or the creation of 'Peaky Blinders' and 'Taboo', but also inconsistent scripts such as 'The Girl in the Spider's Web' (2018) or 'Seventh Son' (2014), which are better to lose than to find them. To this second group of spoiled works, we have to add 'Serenity' (2019), a drama full of mysteries and the strangest twists you can imagine.
It remains to be seen if Knight's third film as a director is a "genius" or the most absurd story conceived by the human mind. Here, the filmmaker grabs all the elements of the neo-noir thriller and a great cast consisting of Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, and Jeremy Strong, giving us a suspense story that meets all the characteristics of the genre, but the amount of archetypes it handles rubs a level of ridiculousness rarely seen on the big screen. The worst of all this (or the best) is that their narrative and aesthetic choices have their "justification", although we cannot deepen this without revealing the twists of the end.
The action transports us to the paradisiacal island of Plymouth, we suppose, somewhere in Polynesia. There, a local fisherman, Baker Dill (McConaughey), spends his days walking tourists in search of a little excitement and fishing aboard his boat, the Serenity, while still obsessed with catching a huge fish (a huge tuna to which he could call "Justice") who has been sworn for a while. The business is not going very well, and Baker can barely afford the expenses, the salary of his partner Duke (Hounsou), or his vice for drinking.
His alcohol routine, disturbing dreams and casual encounters with Constance (Lane) are soon interrupted by the arrival of Karen Zariakas (Hathaway), a woman too bound to that past that she tries to erase at all costs. It turns out that the lady is Dill's ex-wife, now married to Frank (Clarke), a powerful construction entrepreneur, wealthy, macho and prone to violence, who does not hesitate to unload against his wife and stepson Patrick (Rafael Sayegh ), a shy young man, but with a few skills.
Yes, Baker has a son with whom he dreams of meeting one day in happier circumstances. With the same tenacity also intends to catch Justice, but all his immediate plans collide with the whims of Karen, who arrives to the island with a rather indecent proposal. Knowing that her life and that of her son are in constant danger, Mrs. Zariakas proposes that Dill kill Frank during a fishing trip so that everything looks like an unfortunate accident. The money she offers is a great incentive, but there are moral issues that restrain him, as well as a strange telepathic connection with his son.
To this equation must be added the visit of Reid Miller (Strong), sales representative of a fishing supplies company, who pursues Dill across Plymouth, with the sole intention of offering a new prototype tracker, indispensable to catch the elusive little fish. Is this Miller's only intention? You will have to find out for yourself if you dare to sit in the movie theater and play the little game that Knight proposes.
In spite of its innumerable narrative failures and its extreme ridiculousness, 'Serenity' does not stop catching us, since once we enter the plot (or is it in the trap?) We cannot avoid wanting to continue until the end to try to understand what is happening with these characters.
We better sit and wait for the next season of 'Peaky Blinders', which will bring more satisfaction for the audience and the filmmaker himself.