Review: Derailed

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  November 11, 2005 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Reviews

Those lonely commuter train rides really can get to us. The faceless strangers we are crunched together with as we are shuttled around until we reach our next stop. A sigh of relief as we can breathe for a minute, then it's back into the mosh pit we call a bus or train. Ah, thank god, only six more stops to go. Is this you?

Well I cannot imagine any of those faceless strangers look like Clive Owen or Jennifer Aniston. If they did, I bet public transit would be up 80%. What, not 100%? Well, not all of us like Owen or Aniston.

In the new film, Derailed, two faceless commuter drones (Owen and Aniston) find each other and decide to act on their mutual attraction. Who cares if they're married, they're attractive, and well, this is a movie. Oh, there are the "well gosh, I don't know, what will my husband/wife think?" and the "but kissing you felt so good" scenes, and all the deafeningly thick romantic mood tension. Really, is it all that romantic other than watching two attractive people smooch? Didn't think so.

Like all "forbidden affairs", everything goes inevitably bad. This time, the couple's love tryst is invaded by a mean guy (Vincent Cassel) who seems to be cardboard cut-out of the most boring villain ever. This oh-so-mean guy beats Owen to a pulp, rapes Aniston, and well, leaves them alive so he can bug them later.

And bugging them he does, like that gnat you can never catch. Owen, in his best "aw shucks" performance, lets this guy continue to make him feel less and less like a man. I never bought it.

Then in comes the "clichéd" copy boy (RZA) who works with Owen, did time in the "big house", and has to help Owen out.

There are so many clichés, dumb coincidences, and goofy character reactions in this film that not for one moment did I believe Clive Owen in this flick. I never bought him as a wimp. I love Owen as an actor, but here he is just so overly miscast.

I really think that Owen's performance and character should have been more like Harrison Ford in Roman Polanski's Frantic. The guy isn't a moron and does all he can to fight back, even if he is an every-day joe. Just because you're every-day doesn't mean you won't fight. Owen is a wet noodle compared to Ford in Frantic.

Aniston has her moments, but for the most part this is her attempt at a breaking-the-mould role. She was a lot better in The Good Girl, but here she finds a way to carry on some of what she built in that film. One of these days the demon sitting on her shoulder, or do I mean her agent, will stop calling her Rachel.

I really do think that this film could have been a lot more powerful and more interesting if a new director was attached. It needed a David Fincher, Alfred Hitchcock, or even something sexier from say an Adrian Lyne. The film could have also used some smarter writing.

I really like Clive Owen and for the most part I think Jennifer Aniston could do drama, but this isn't a good vehicle for either party. Aniston needs to get grittier, grimier, and less inhibited to finally shrug off her nice girl image. Just please Jennifer, don't call Jane Campion. She nearly offed Nicole Kidman in Portrait of a Lady and sacrificed Meg Ryan to Satan with In the Cut. Poor Meg may never recover.

Derailed is an okay and rudimentary thriller, but since I guessed a lot of the film's impact 20 minutes in, I was hoping it would at least deliver in performance or visually. It didn't on either. (2 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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