DERAILED (2005)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 52 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Strong Disturbing Violence, Language and some Sexuality

Derailed poster

Directed by: Mikael Hafstrom

Written by: Stuart Beattie

(based on the novel DERAILED by James Siegel)

Starring: Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Vincent Cassel, Melissa George, Addison Timlin, RZA, Tom Conti & Xzibit

DERAILED, based on James Siegel’s novel of the same name, is a typical thriller. You’ve probably seen enough similar films to establish a good idea of where things are heading before the movie reaches its halfway point. This being said, it’s truly amazing how some quality actors and a couple of decent twists can make standard material into something far more enjoyable than it should be. DERAILED is more of a guilty pleasure than a solid piece of cinema or quality thriller, but I mean this in a way of back-handed praise. I had a fun watching this in the only way that a cinephile can enjoy a relatively well-executed B-flick.

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Charles Schine is a loving husband, caring father and troubled businessman. Through the simple mistake of missing his usual train, Charles meets a good Samaritan named Lucinda. Despite both of them being married and parents, Charles and Lucinda decide to go against their better judgment and have a fling that becomes an affair. Before the two can go through on the actual affair portion of their fling, a violent stranger breaks into their hotel room with a gun. After beating the crap out of Charles and raping Lucinda, this thug, LaRoche, decides to blackmail both of the potentially unfaithful spouses for all that they’re worth. With stakes increasing and danger taking its toll, Charles must resort to drastic measures in order to protect his family and Lucinda.

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I respect that a significant amount of time was set aside to develop Charles as a likable character who makes a costly mistake. Clive Owen was a great choice for the role and shows a side that we rarely see from him. I usually picture Owen as a badass or tough guy, but his DERAILED character is a bit of a wuss and emotional wreck. He gets the crap kicked out of him on multiple occasions, which makes the shift in his overall shift in attitude that much more satisfying later on. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Jennifer Aniston was embarrassingly miscast as Lucinda. She isn’t given a whole lot to do other than be a cowering, scared damsel in distress, but Aniston doesn’t exactly show a range of emotions to be a compelling character. This is made up for in the villain of the piece. Vincent Cassel seems to be having a blast playing LaRoche, injecting a cruel playfulness in his evil that makes him a lot of fun to watch. As LaRoche’s side thug, Xzibit shows up with a perma-scowl and his performance is enjoyable as well. Cassel and Xzibit chew the scenery together like it’s going out of style.

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The story in DERAILED is overly familiar, but key moments are effective. One suspenseful sequence in which Clive Owen is stuck in a very comprising situation, all while a cop patrols nearby, milks every bit of tension that it can out of this threatening scenario. A couple of the smaller twists did actually surprise me. However, there are arguably a few too many surprises and the final few become increasingly far-fetched. A big plot revelation that happens close to the final third is also way too predictable. So much so that I had correctly guessed the outcome of this show-stopping plot twist in the initial plot set-up. It’s not that big of a shock, especially when certain comedies have made fun of this clichéd twist plenty of times (e.g. IN BRUGES and FANBOYS).

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This all being said, there’s silly fun to be had in DERAILED. The main plot is definitely too predictable for its own good and Jennifer Aniston was miscast. Neither of these problems derail the movie (pun fully intended). There are a solid moments and a couple of twists did catch me off guard, even if they do get pretty preposterous by the conclusion. Clive Owen shows a softer side that I’ve never really seen in his acting, while Vincent Cassel dominates the film as the snarky villain. DERAILED comes recommended as a guilty pleasure thriller. It’s suspenseful fun, but just remember to turn off your brain before watching.

Grade: C+

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