This story contains spoilers for Serenity and discusses the ending in detail.
At first, the strangest aspect of the crime thriller Serenity is that the film's protagonist, a fisherman named Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey), spends his days obsessing over a tuna he's dubbed "Justice." He lives on a vaguely tropical island with a handful of oddball locals and "one cop in town," but plenty of fish in the sea. The film's script, which was penned by its director, Steven Knight (the Oscar-nominated filmmaker behind the Tom Hardy car showpiece Locke and the Tom Hardy top-hat series Taboo), is filled with dialogue about tuna. If you love tuna, seek this out.
The emphasis on aquatic life isn't exactly highlighted in the film's steamy marketing campaign, which goes to great lengths to sell the movie as a twist-filled take on Body Heat, with Anne Hathaway playing the mysterious femme fatale. And, at least for the first hour or so, that's what Serenity is. Dill's ex-wife Karen (Hathaway) disrupts his idyllic Beach Bum-esque life of drinking and fishing by arriving with her repugnant, abusive new husband Frank (Jason Clarke). She offers Dill $10 million cash to murder her loathsome hubby at sea, and Dill, an ex-soldier with a broken moral compass, is tempted. So far, so noir-y.
But, even from the start, it's clear that Knight is up to something a bit more high-concept than an old-school genre tribute. In between the Jimmy Buffett mystery plot, we keep learning about Dill's son Patrick, a prodigy who hides from his tyrannical step-father by typing away at the computer in his room. Also, a nebbish businessman played by Succession stand-out Jeremy Strong keeps making futile attempts to contact Dill with a message of some sort. A writer with a tendency to double-underline his themes, Knight doesn't place these plot elements in the background or fit them snugly into his pastiche. They're buzzing in your face like flies for most of the movie's opening stretch.