Derailed

Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Melissa George, Vincent Cassel, RZA
Director: Mikael Håfström

I was looking forward to seeing Jennifer Aniston in a mainstream thriller. After all of the comedy she has so far stuck to with the exception of the independent feature the GOOD GIRL, I wanted to see what more she could do and the trailer for DERAILED looked promising.

Charles Schine (Clive Owen) is a happily married man who seemingly by accident meets and gets to know Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston). He’s tempted, so he makes a pass at her with a very cheeky pickup line (or maybe that should read a very cheesy pickup line) and after much contemplation they end up in a seedy hotel room, but just as the fun is about to start in bursts a gunman who robs Charles then starts to force himself on Lucinda. Charles tries to stop him but is beaten unconscious and the scene cuts there.

When Charles regains consciousness Lucinda says she was raped but won’t call the police because she is married and can’t explain the situation. Charles reluctantly keeps quiet too but soon gets a call from LaRoche (the gunman) played by Vincent Cassel, who blackmails him in exchange for not only his silence but also threatens Charles’ wife and child. Of course one payment is not enough and Charles plans his own trap.

There are a couple of very nice twists in this tale as well as a moment that certainly made me jump in my seat, and that’s unusual for me, plus a couple of scenes are sprinkled with tongue-in-cheek humour that add some nice touches.

However, for all the plus points this movie has in its favour there are some very irritating negatives that really do spoil what could have been a very good film.

To start with there are a number of very important plot points that are just plain silly and to justify my comments I am going to have to give away some important spoilers so stop reading here if you don’t want to know!

1 – Why does Charles dump the car with the dead body in it so close to the point that the police patrol stopped him?

2 – Charles’ actions are so suspicious in this scene why doesn’t the police patrol at least check him or the car out?

3 – Why does Charles wipe his fingerprints off the car only to put his hands back on it again immediately afterwards?

4 – How come all of the money is sitting in the original briefcase in the hotel safe – the very hotel where the muggings take place, when the hotel porter has to pay the clerk at the reception to look the other way to even let in LaRoche. Would LaRoche really keep his cash here?

5 – Charles’ story of how he was grabbed by LaRoche in the prison is thin at best but what about security cameras?

6 – What was with the investigating police officer, Detective Church (Giancarlo Esposito), throughout the film – did he have a brain!?

I’m not just picking holes here as these are key points in the movie and show up some very sloppy filmmaking and a blatant disregard for the audience’s intelligence.

Unfortunately these are not the only problems with DERAILED. Clive Owen’s performance seems subdued throughout the picture and I can’t help but feel that this was more down to Mikael Håfström’s direction and the way the character was written by Stuart Beatty rather than Owen’s acting ability.

Jennifer Aniston was without doubt cast in the wrong role and should have played Charles’ wife Deanna. She’s a good actress but miscast here.

Melissa George who did play Deanna Schine did a good job with her part but would have been perfect in Aniston’s role of the lying, con-artist and beautiful seductress. She did a whole season of TV’s ALIAS playing that part – haven’t the filmmakers even seen one of television’s top-rated series worldwide!?!

On the plus side I have to say that Vincent Cassel not only did an excellent job with his over the top interpretation of the psychopathic villain, he was also thoroughly entertaining. At least they got one piece of casting right.

Good acting and bad acting, clever plot twits, sloppy plot points, all of these things add up to make DERAILED a distinctly mediocre movie.

3 out of 6 stars

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