Publicity Stills of "Derailed"
(Courtesy from BVI)

Genre: Thriller
Director: Mikael Håfström
Starring: Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Vincent Cassel
RunTime: 1 hr 47 mins
Released By: BVI
Rating: NC-16 (Violence)

Official Website: www.derailedthemovie.com

Opening Day: 5 January 2006

Synopsis :

Advertising executive Charles Schine (Clive Owen) is just another Chicago commuter who regularly catches the 8:43am train to work. But the one day he misses his train and meets Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston), his life is changed forever.

Lucinda is charming, beautiful and seductive. Despite the fact that each are married with children, their attraction to one another is magnetic. Lunch dates quickly become cocktails after work, and before long, Charles and Lucinda’s infatuation leads them to a hotel room. Their seemingly perfect affair goes terribly awry when LaRoche (Vincent Cassel), a brutal stranger, breaks into their room and holds them at gunpoint. This once illicit liaison turns into a nightmare more dangerous and violent than either could have ever imagined.

Charles’ life soon becomes filled with deception, blackmail, violence and crime. Unable to confide in his wife or speak to the police, Charles finds himself trapped in a world he doesn’t recognize, with no trace of the life he once knew.

Movie Review:

Always remember to lock the door when you're in some sleazy hotel engaged in serious hanky panky. You'd never know who might be watching, or what might happen when you literally get caught with your pants in between your legs.

Clive Owen, such a strong contender to take over the Bond role (until Daniel Craig snagged it), plays everyday executive Charles Schine. He seems to have the perfect family - beautiful wife, adorable child, except that Mr Everyday has everyday problems too. He loses his major customer account, can't get along with his boss, his relationship with his wife has lost its romance, and has huge medical bills to pay for his daughter, who has kidney failure.

During his routine commute to work, he chances upon Jennifer Aniston's Lucinda Harris, also an executive, working in a financial company. Before long, they start to enjoy each other's company during their train rides, sharing family details, and begin to see each other more outside of their routine journeys to office.

As an opportunity to break from mundane routine, Charles falls for attractive Lucinda, and the film takes its time for the two to deliberate their actions and decision to betray their spouses. And it is precisely then when the movie picks up the pace slightly, allowing the audience to experience their first anti-climax (pardon the pun), as the couple gets blackmailed by a French criminal Philippe LaRoche (Vincent Cassel, last seen also as a criminal in Ocean's Twelve), when he enters the scene having caught Charles with his hand in the cookie jar. What happens after is probably every couple's nightmare in a situation like this.

Things start to go awry for Charles, as LaRoche attempts to blackmail him for more, threatening to disclose everything to his family. His mundane world begins to fall apart, and it all seems so helpless. You feel Charles' sense of despair as he has nobody to turn to initially; he can't speak to his wife about it, Lucinda's in a state of shock and shame, they can't go to the police because that will mean explaining their purpose at the hotel room. He tries to get back at LaRoche, but LaRoche always stays a step ahead, and shows Charles what he's capable of by calling and visiting the Schine family home.

Although both Owen and Aniston share top billing in Derailed, the focus gets shifted to Owen as the movie goes along, with Aniston relegated to minor appearances in the second and final acts. We've already seen what Clive Owen is capable of in his roles in 2005, as the insecure man in Closer, and the tough as nails Dwight in Sin City. Here, we see both roles combined into one, with his character transitioning from meek, to the dog which bites back when forced into the corner.

And it is precisely his acting that maintains the audience's interest in wanting to know how he would ever climb out of the mess he got himself into. There are clever twists in the film, but to the sharped eyed viewer, you might think that Aniston gave it away if you're familiar with her nuanced acting style. There are also certain plot situations that had stretched Credibility, but tried to redeem itself by offering plausible explanations, if the audience buys in.

Perhaps this movie has a message to those who are tempted to give marital infidelity a go at. Never give in, and always come clean. You're just not going to get as lucky as some fictional Hollywood characters.

Movie Rating:

(Classic Clive Owen performance which lifts this thriller from mediocrity)

Review by Stefan Shih

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