Reviews & Previews - Derailed

Posted on Thursday, November 10, 2005 at 05:00 PM


By: S. Tran

Starring: Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Vincent Cassel
Directed By: Mikael Hafstrom
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Rated: Rated R for strong disturbing violence, language and some sexuality.


I am at a loss as to what to make of Derailed. It has all the makings of a good film, likeable stars, an interesting premise and a good budget. However again as with many Hollywood films the house of cards comes tumbling down because of a weak story that tries to be clever but only succeeds in being annoyingly dumb, like that friend of yours who recycles old jokes.

Charles (Owen) is a ad executive going through the mid-life doldrums when he meets Lucinda (Aniston) on the train to work and the two strike up an impromptu romance. Admittedly the first third of the film isn't bad. Aniston and Owens have a nice chemistry together and the obligatory cute meeting that they have works well. Aniston manages to lose most traces of her "Rachael" persona from her Friends days and plays a credible business woman. Owen's look is perfectly suited to his tired, bored husband character.

Whatever goodwill the film banks in the first half hour though it begins to take away during the last two-thirds as the affair between Aniston and Owen turns into a nightmare when the bad guys show up. This is where the movie shifts gears and tries to become a thriller. I say try because it never really succeeds in thrilling us in any meaningful way.

The first problem is that the threat that Owens and Aniston are subjected to after the initial meeting isn't particularly threatening. There's no immediacy to the danger that makes you hang on to your seat hoping that the good guy wins. Instead the peril is fairly white collar. I can't say much more without giving away too much of the film but you'll see what I mean when you watch the movie.

The second problem with the movie when it goes into thriller mode is that the actions of the characters, especially Owens stop making sense. His reactions to the twists that are thrown at him are so absurd that the audience is more apt to laugh at his ineptitude than agree with his decisions. There are so many outs available to him during the movie that we wonder why he continues his freefall for so long.

But for me the biggest problem by far was that after spending so much effort to create a smart thriller, the criminal masterminds terrorizing Owens and Aniston all of a sudden start making idiotic decisions. I guess they have to do this to let Owens redeem himself from his earlier pathetic moves, but their actions don't make much sense otherwise.

If you're a fan of the stars this is a passable film. Otherwise it's a movie you can pass on until it hits the video shelves.


2.5 out of 5 stars.


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