Serenity is a 2005 American space western film written and directed by Joss Whedon?. It is a continuation of Whedon's short-lived 2002 Fox science fiction television series Firefly and stars the same cast, taking place after the events of the final episode. Set in 2517, Serenity is the story of the captain and crew of Serenity, a "Firefly-class" spaceship. The captain and first mate are veterans of the Unification War, having fought on the losing side. Their lives of petty crime are interrupted by a psychic passenger who harbors a dangerous secret.
The film was released in North America on September 30, 2005 by Universal Pictures. It received generally positive reviews and was #2 during its opening weekend but it did not make back its budget until its home media release. Serenity won numerous awards, including the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
In the 26th century, humanity has left an overpopulated Earth and moved to a new star system, terraforming and colonizing many planets and moons. The well-established central planets formed the Alliance and won a war against the outer planet Independents - those refusing to join the Alliance. River Tam is among the young people being coercively conditioned by Alliance scientists to be psychic assassins. She is rescued by her brother Simon. Because top government secrets have been inadvertently exposed to River's psychic abilities, an Alliance agent known only as the Operative is tasked with recapturing her.
The siblings have found refuge aboard the transport spaceship Serenity, captained by smuggler and Independent veteran Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds. Despite Simon's objections, Mal brings River on a bank robbery. They are attacked by the savage and cannibalistic Reavers. They escape, but Simon decides he and River will leave Serenity at the next port. Once there, however, a television commercial causes River to attack the patrons of a bar, and Mal takes the siblings back aboard the ship. A recording of the incident is viewed by the Operative. The crew contacts reclusive hacker Mr. Universe, who discovers within the commercial a subliminal message designed to trigger River's mental conditioning. He notes River whispered "Miranda" before attacking and warns someone has seen the footage.
Mal receives a call from Inara Serra, a former passenger. He fears she is in danger; despite knowing it is a trap, Mal goes to rescue her. As expected, he is confronted by the Operative. The Operative promises to let Mal go free if he turns over River, but Mal refuses and escapes with Inara. River reveals that Miranda is a planet located beyond a region of space swarming with reavers. The crew flies to the planet Haven to ponder their next move. However, the Alliance has attacked it, killing their friend Shepherd Book. The Operative is killing all who have ever offered the crew safe haven in an attempt to flush them out, and he promises he will pursue them until he captures River.
Mal decides they must sail through the fleet of Reaver vessels to Miranda and learn what the Alliance is hiding. On Miranda, the crew discover a fully terraformed planet filled with corpses. A distress beacon leads them to a recording by an Alliance survey team, which explains that an experimental chemical designed to suppress aggression in humans was added into Miranda's air. The experiment worked too well, and most residents became so docile they allowed themselves to die. However, a small portion of the population had the opposite reaction and became exceedingly aggressive and violent, turning into the Reavers.
Mal asks Mr. Universe to broadcast the recording to everyone in the system. However, the Operative bribes Mr. Universe to betray them. Once Mr. Universe completes his role, the Operative mortally wounds him and destroys his equipment. Mal suspects a trap, and he lures the Reaver fleet into pursuing Serenity to Mr. Universe's planet and attacking the waiting Alliance fleet. The damaged Serenity crash lands, and pilot Hoban Washburne is killed when Reavers attack immediately after. The crew flees, and they plan to make a stand against the Reavers to buy Mal time to broadcast the recording. Through a message recorded by Mr. Universe before his death, Mal learns of a backup transmitter. After sustaining heavy injuries, the crew retreats behind a set of blast doors, which do not properly close. A Reaver shoots through the opening and severely wounds Simon, prompting River to charge through the doors and close them as the Reavers drag her away.
In a confrontation at the backup transmitter, Mal disables the Operative and forces him to watch the recording as it is broadcast. Mal returns to the crew, and the blast doors open to reveal River has killed all the Reavers. Alliance troops reach the group, but the disillusioned Operative orders them to stand down.
The Operative provides medical aid and resources to repair Serenity. The crew erects memorials for their fallen friends. Simon consummates his romantic relationship with mechanic Kaylee Frye. The Operative tells Mal the broadcast weakened the Alliance government. While he will try to convince them that River and Simon are no longer threats, he cannot guarantee the Alliance will end their pursuit. Inara decides that she will remain with the crew, and Serenity takes off with River as Mal's co-pilot.