Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Serenity

“Dragged Across Concrete” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.

A movie like ”Serenity” is a joy to watch yet hard to review because there are some genuine surprises in it that should not be spoiled. I’ll do as best as I can by starting off with the bare bones of the plot, which centers around fisherman Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey), his ex-wife (Anne Hathaway), and her new husband (Jason Clarke).

The action takes place on the fictional Plymouth Island, which if I understood the geography correctly by the hints dropped in the movie, is somewhere in the Caribbean. Here we first see Dill on his boat with his first mate Duke (Djimon Hounsou) as they host a paid fishing excursion for two drunken tourists. One of the tourists happens to snag a large tuna fish by dumb luck. But this isn’t any tuna. It’s one Dill calls Justice that he’s been hunting for years. His Ahab-like intense desire to catch the fish goes into full gear. Dill is lucky that the law on the island is more than a little lax.

When Dill can’t make any money fishing, he plays gigolo to an island woman named Constance (Diane Lane). Even though money is exchanged, the truth is that they both need the companionship.

The applecart of his existence is overturned by the arrival to the island of Karen, his ex-wife played by Hathaway. She pops up looking blonde and stylish, sticking out like a sore thumb on the more casual island. This character, however, would not be out of place in a classic 1940s film noir. Karen informs Dill that her new husband Frank is abusive toward her and their son Patrick (Rafael Sayegh). She is willing to pay Dill ten million dollars to take Frank on a fishing excursion and make him have an accident in the shark infested waters.

At its most basic level, “Serenity” works as a character piece, in which the protagonist has a crisis of conscience. Dill initially rejects Karen’s offer. However, the more he thinks about it—and the more persuasive she gets—the more he seriously considers following through with it. Once Frank shows up and we finally get to see the man himself—a loud, pushy, entitled, rich d-bag—it becomes even easier to see why offing this jerk might not be such a bad idea.


“Serenity” doesn’t stop there with its ideas, though I must. The above plot description makes the movie seem like a film noir, or one of Woody Allen’s twisted dramas, but it has more audacity than that. It shoots for something greater and more profound. Little clues about what’s to come, and a mysterious character played by Jeremy Strong, add enticing elements of mystery to the proceedings. These mysteries do get answered, I think in a satisfying way.

The only head scratcher I’m left with after the final solution involves the sex scenes—and there are quite a few of them in “Serenity.” After watching this movie, think about the resolution, then think again about the sex scenes and who is having sex in those scenes. Yeah--that is definitely not normal. Though, being not normal is what makes this intriguing movie such a good watch. Rent it.

More New Releases: “Dragged Across Concrete,” about two suspended policemen who turn to the criminal underworld for extra cash, starring Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Udo Kier, and Don Johnson.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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