Saturday, November 12, 2005

Movie Review: Derailed

United States, 2005
U.S. Release Date: 11/11/05
Running Time: 1:45
Rated: R (Violence, profanity, sexual situations, rape)
Cast: Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Vincent Cassel, Melissa George, Addison Timlin, Giancarlo Esposito, RZA

Director: Mikael Håfström
Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Screenplay: Stuart Beattie, based on the novel by James Siegel
Music: Edward Shearmur
Studio: The Weinstein Company/Miramax Films

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With a near nonexistent advertising budget for Derailed, The Weinstein Company opted to conserve its cash and hope that their A-list actors were enough to increase the head-counts in every theater. Even though the best reason to see Derailed is for the impulsive infidelity of its marquee actors, the film is mostly implausible, ridden with clichés, and entirely predictable. Anyone familiar with the ways of the genre will be correctly suspect from the onset of the action.

After a chance meeting on the commuter train to work, advertising executive Charles Schine (Clive Owen) and financial advisor Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston) hit it off and begin an affair. Despite the fact that both are married and have a daughter, they allow their passion for one another to escalate to the point of purchasing a hotel room.

Once inside the hotel room, Charles and Lucinda are interrupted by Philippe Laroche (Vincent Cassel), a French criminal who wants more than their money. After holding the two at gunpoint and stealing Charles’ wallet, he beats Charles to a pulp and rapes Lucinda. Knowing that Charles and Lucinda were having an affair, he threatens to both inform and harm Charles’ wife (Melissa George) and kid (Addison Timlin) unless he receives a large sum of money.

Much like a combo of his characterizations from Closer and Sin City, Clive Owen is able to exude the full embodiment of the protagonist in distress with ease. Similarly, Vincent Cassel draws on his role as the villain in Ocean’s 12 and effortless plays the part of the maniacal gum-chewing antagonist. Aniston, on the other hand, is difficult to accept as the anti-girl next door. Nonetheless, by depicting her potential depth in films like this one and The Good Girl, she is surely on the path to becoming a more mature and prevalent Hollywood star.

Surprisingly, the Wu Tang Clan’s RZA and MTV’s Pimp My Ride’s Xzibit hold their own in their respective roles. While RZA stands out more with his charming wit, Xzibit simply doubles as an outline for your stereotypical sidekick thug.

Derailed is not a bad movie; it’s just too much of an obvious amalgamation of films like Unfaithful, Fatal Attraction, and Cape Fear to be called original and unpredictable. Yes, it has its parts of successful suspense and dynamic drama, but the picture is more generic and protracted than anything else. With its “December” epilogue that pays homage to the horror genre (in a sense that the killer, who is presumed dead, comes back for one final scare), Derailed renders the effectiveness of its artificial ending defunct.

In one of its opening scenes, Derailed mentions the importance of possessing an intriguing narrative and sucking people into the storyline. Sadly, Derailed doesn’t practice what it preaches. While it is marginally better than your average thriller, in this day-and-age, that ain’t saying much. With an obvious twist and one-too-many unlikely occurrences on its tracks, this train leaves the rails and violently collapses on its side. (** out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2005