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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.84%
Worth A Look: 6.45%
Pretty Bad: 27.42%
Total Crap: 25.81%

7 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Derailed (2005)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by William Goss

"A Train Wreck"
1 stars

When the lights came up at the 'Derailed' screening, one of my colleagues was openly pondering on what audience the film had. There wasn’t enough action or thrills to satisfy suspense fans, not enough romance for the lovebirds, and barely any humor or surprises whatsoever. I suggested that perhaps if you hadn’t been to the movies in five or ten years, this might do it for you, but anyone else would be hard-pressed to be truly satisfied with 'Derailed.'

Since his wife emptied his wallet before he left home, Chicago businessman Charles Schine (Clive Owen) is unable to pay for his train ticket until a stranger offers to cover for him. The stranger turns out to be Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston), an attractive commuter also headed to work. Under the thin guise of wanting to reimburse her, he meets her again the next day. They do lunch. They do a drink. They do each other. It is in their seedy hotel room where they are interrupted by Philippe Laroche (Vincent Cassel), who proceeds to assault Charles and rape Lucinda. Shaken up, both refuse to contact the cops. However, Philippe soon returns, blackmailing Charles with the affair and driving him to increasingly desperate measures.

In its own odd way, Derailed is an impressive achievement. After much consideration, I have yet to find any specific flaws responsible for dragging the film down. Instead, it would appear that every other factor, the acting, the plot, the direction, can all be equally pegged for fusing together to form such a pathetic product, one that reaches a mind-numbing level of mediocrity. It’s as if the sum of its parts resulted in negative numbers. See, thrillers have a tendency to be suspenseful. Not in this case. Even by watching the trailer, one can likely predict the Big Twist. If not, you might be impressed by yet another reason to recap the entire film in a thirty-second montage, but you’ll most likely find yourself in the minority. Besides thrills, Derailed also lacks basic morality. Our ‘hero’ not only gets away with the affair, but also pulls off a series of homicides to no consequence. Good thing he has hidden everything from the cops, as well as his wife (Melissa George), including the removal of funds they had been saving for so many years for their ailing daughter’s medication.

As good as an actor as Owen has proven himself to be, his turn as a distant husband/father – um, guilty adulterer – um, sudden vigilante isn’t nearly as compelling or believable as it needs to be. Adding insult to injury is Aniston’s performance, with which she tries to distance herself from her Friends persona but stumbles as an inadequate femme fatale. At least Cassel gets a chance to ham it up as – wait for it – a villain. Then we get not one, but two rappers in the mix: the RZA shows up as the wise black janitor friend of Charles, and Xzibit tries his best to ‘pimp my crime’ as Laroche’s henchman (because all blackmailing rapist muggers have obedient minions). Swedish director Mikael Håfström can be forgiven for such flat work in his American debut, but more should have come from screenwriter Stuart Beattie, who wrote last year’s terrific Collateral. Adapting the novel by James Siegel, he eliminates any possible sympathy for the characters and paints their circumstances in the lightest possible shade of noir.

Had it indeed been derailed to cable or video, this might have been a high-profile timewaster. However, on the big screen, it becomes painfully evident that Derailed is a plodding and predictable attempt at a thriller, filled with obvious twists, weak performances, and neither humor nor ethics. Apparently, the biggest moral of the story is that, if you play your cards right, you too can get away with adultery, as well as several counts of murder. Hey, it worked for Clive.

Shortly after the ‘Audience? What audience?’ discussion, we made our way through the theatre lobby, only to pass by a poster for the film, with the tagline, “They Never Saw It Coming.” If only we hadn’t.

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originally posted: 11/13/05 16:34:35
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell interesting some good twists 4 stars
6/12/09 geoff herbert Cassell's film ... nicely executed! Aniston's best ever. 4 stars
1/27/09 Jack Am I the only one that liked this? 5 stars
4/10/08 ravenmad didn't make sense. Why risk your daughter's life for this woman? kinda dumb. 2 stars
7/09/07 fools♫gold Hey, I liked it better than the same year's "Land of the Dead"! Great soundtrack. Watch it. 3 stars
7/03/07 Helen Bradley Slow paced confusing plot 2 stars
2/19/07 neznamo unbelievable story, but not completely predictable, great twisty-turnies, Cassel is creepy 3 stars
9/22/06 Frank Good movie 4 stars
9/02/06 Nicole L. I did not know the plot andI guess it helped. 4 stars
8/14/06 Phil M. Aficionado Preposterously stupid with no redeeming qualities. None.Zero.Nada.Nil.Zip.Squat.Period. 1 stars
6/15/06 Agent Sands Unexpectedly tense and engaging. It was actually a class-A thriller. 5 stars
5/06/06 Indrid Cold Perfectly average, predictable, unsatisfying. 3 stars
5/06/06 Sriram Total Crap 1 stars
3/21/06 Zaw Could have compress the 1st 1hr into 15 min and movie will be much better. 2 stars
2/27/06 Donna A. I really wanted this to be good. I should have waited for the DVD. 2 stars
12/06/05 Cindy It was really nice! even there was something disgust 5 stars
11/20/05 Evil Wolfie Starts off slow. Overall not bad. 3 stars
11/14/05 Donna A. It's to bad about this movie. Clive and Jen it just didn't work. 2 stars
11/12/05 j poop 1 stars
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  11-Nov-2005 (R)
  DVD: 21-Mar-2006

  03-Feb-2006 (15)


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