The McConaissance is over: Matthew McConaughey’s new film ‘Serenity’ panned by critics

Sam Ashurst
Dir: Steven Knight. Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong. 15 cert, 107 mins

Forget ‘all right, all right, all right,’ Matthew McConaughey’s new movie Serenity is all wrong according to critics, which means the McConaissance (the period where the actor enjoyed great success in a series of critically acclaimed projects, winning him an Oscar) is over.

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On paper, Serenity should be a compelling noir thriller, with McConaughey and Anne Hathaway reuniting for the first time since Chris Nolan’s Interstellar, in a film directed by Peaky Blinders and Tom Hardy’s Taboo creator Steven Knight. Great cast, great director – but a dodgy script (also by Knight) appears to have pulled the project beneath the waves.

The story seems solid enough – a fishing boat captain is approached by his ex wife to help save her son by murdering her abusive new husband by feeding him to sharks, but some bizarre elements (including multiple references to tuna, and one of the strangest twists ever) has killed Serenity dead for critics.

“At the critics’ screening I attended, the audience was reduced to hysterics,” Rex Reed says in the Observer.

“Accidental hilarity turns ugly in this baffling exercise in genre-hopping that thinks it justifies its Hollywood-typical adolescent-boy attitudes about women, sex, violence, and morality. It does not,” MaryAnn Johanson states in Flick Filosopher.

“Neither tense, genuinely philosophical or surprising, Serenity ends up leaving the audience groaning, laughing hysterically at its awful execution, or willing the pain to end as its dated ideas play out,” says Lewis Knight in The Mirror.

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But perhaps Emma Simmonds puts it best in The List, “Aiming for brain-bending, Serenity is certainly a head-scratcher; you’ll wonder why the cast were drawn to such a questionable concept.”

Serenity is just the latest in a string of poorly received live action films McConaughey has starred in since his Oscar win in 2014. Free State of Jones, The Sea of Trees, Gold, The Dark Tower, and White Boy Rick all received the unwanted “Rotten” status on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ah well, Matthew – there’s always the Sahara franchise, maybe it’s time to blow the dust off your Sahara 2 script, and pull your sleeveless vest from out of the closet; it’s back to movie purgatory for you.

Serenity premieres on Sky Cinema on Friday, and can also be seen in select cinemas.