A progressively off-the-wall drama, Serenity follows fishing-boat captain Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) as he receives an unexpected offer from a former flame (Anne Hathaway’s Karen) – with the movie detailing Baker’s ongoing encounters with Karen (and her abusive husband, Jason Clarke’s Frank) and his growing suspicion that perhaps all is not as it seems. It’s a well-worn premise that is, for the most part, employed to entirely uninvolving effect by filmmaker Steven Knight, as the writer/director delivers a slow-moving first half that possesses few elements designed to capture and sustain the viewer’s attention – with, especially, the picture’s opening half hour’s exceedingly (and excessively) deliberate pace compounded by McConaughey’s atypically dull and charisma-free performance (ie his character is ultimately just too grizzled and subdued to make much of an impact). The sporadic inclusion of decidedly oddball elements (eg what’s the deal with that besuited man who keeps following Baker?) elevates one’s interest every now and then, to be sure, while the inexplicable and completely bonkers twist that dominates the picture’s final third certainly takes the story in an unpredictable (but no less tiresome) direction – although this isn’t quite enough to compensate for what’s otherwise (and mostly) an exhaustingly tedious drama devoid of compelling attributes.

* out of ****

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