Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

After a week of watching ‘art’ films where people sit and stare out windows, drive around countrysides for hours, and expound on the philosophies of lives unfulfilled, thank goodness for ‘Derailed’:  A wannabe Hitchcockian thriller that only challenges you to keep the popcorn popped for the duration of it’s enjoyable running time.


Clive Owen laces them up as Charles Schine, a man facing a severe midlife crisis.  He and his wife aren’t getting along, his diabetic daughter needs two new kidneys, and the biggest client at his ad agency has fired him off the project.  Through a stroke of fate, Charles meets Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston) on the train to work.  Charles is immediately attracted to the beautiful, smart, wealthy and married financial analyst and she is attracted to him.  One thing leads predictably leads to another and soon the two find themselves in a sleazy hotel prepared to handle some infidelity business.  But before you can say zip, unsnap and yank, a crazed lunatic with a gun burst into the room (actually, he doesn’t burst.  He just sort of materializes), robs them both, pistol whips Charles, and rapes Lucinda repeatedly.  This madman, Phillipe (French superstar actor Vincent Cassel), then proceeds to blackmail and extort from Charles and Lucinda while Charles scrambles to find ways to get himself out of this horrible mess he’s created for the both of them.  

‘Derailed’ would like to have been a 1940’s noir throwback kind of film, but they were unable to create the right mood to pull that off.  As far as being an Alfred Hitchcock style thriller, the writing and plotting is not close to clever enough to be, say, a modern day ‘North by Northwest’.  Jennifer Aniston.  Is she good-looking?  Oh yes.  Does she have a nice figure?  God yes.  Is she femme fatale material?  Well, no. 

Despite all the hype about this being a different kind of role for her, it really wasn’t.  This is more a fault of false advertising than anything she did.  She was perfectly fine in the role of the somewhat vague Lucinda, just not fatal. 


But that’s what was wrong with the movie, so toss that in the garbage.  We go to the movies to be entertained, and ‘Derailed’ delivers.  The movie has great pacing, slowing a bit in the middle for a moment to allow your brain to catch up to how ridiculous the whole thing is, but then it picks right back up and rides on rails all the way to the end.  Though somewhat predictable, it does have moments that will have you guessing as to what is real and what is slight of hand.  Clive Owen is a legitimate Movie Star, an actor who can carry whole scenes without saying a word.  He was able to convey the near hopelessness of Charles’ predicament, though he does often make the kinds of stupid decisions that only happen in movies.  Vincent Cassel is completely menacing and believable as the crazed French criminal Phillipe.  A French tough guy.  Whoever heard of such a thing?  Jennifer Aniston gets wet.  Imagine you’re in a hotel room with a wet Jennifer Aniston, who looks you in the eye and says with all sincerity: ‘I think I want to f… you’.  Gentlemen, you’re having a good day.    Plus the movie has rappers trying to act.  You can’t beat that with a stick!  Xzibit (who I need to call because my Kia needs pimping) and the RZA are both good respectively as Phillipe’s brutal right hand man, and Charles lovable drug dealing mail clerk.


‘Derailed’ isn’t going to be preserved in a time capsule any time soon, but for a good time at the movies or in the living room, you can do way worse than a wet Jennifer Aniston saying nasty things to you.


The DVD was surprisingly sparse with a making of featurette consisting of a few minutes of everyone telling us much they loved each other, three deleted scenes without commentary, and the films theatrical trailer.



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