Faintly ridiculous, largely tedious.

Released in 2005, certified UK-15. Reviewed on 06 Feb 2006 by Scott Morris
Derailed image

There seems something a little counterproductive in having your lead character dole out warnings about twists in the narrative, ostensibly while helping his kiddywink out with her homework but we all know who he's really talking to. The heads-up means that you've little excuse for not knowing the dirty little secrets of this film long before it deigns to reveal them, and given how blindingly obvious these narrative jinks are one wonders if it was a particularly nifty idea to mention it in the first place.

We are, however, rather getting ahead of ourselves. Charles Schine (Clive Owen) is the lead character of which we speak, a marketing exec working hard to save up cash for the treatment of seriously ill kiddywink Amy (Addison Timlin), of whom we have also spoken. Expect this to be wrung for as much sentimental pap as possible.

Despite a seemingly blissful relationship with his wife Deanna (Melissa George), after a chance meeting on the train with fellow exec Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston) he's on the prowl for some extramarital shenanigans. It doesn't take too much coaxing to lure her back to a seedy hotel, but before he can unsheathe the ol' pork sword they're rather rudely interrupted by Philippe LaRoche (Vincent Cassel) who mugs then, leaving Charles a bloodied heap on the floor and raping Lucinda. What a dastardly rotter. Continuing his dastardly antics, rather than leaving his poor victims be he starts blackmailing them, threatening to reveal their attempted sordid affairs to their better halves.

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Clearly, this aggression cannot stand. Charles stands up as if to say that there is a line, and across this line you do not ... cross. Enlisting the help of office mail distribution technician (mailboy to you, sonny) Winston Boyko (RZA), who is still down with the violence of the streets in a not-at-all shockingly racist, no sir, sort of fashion, to help teach the dastardly evil Frenchy type LaRoche a sound lesson in gentlemanly conduct. Will this simple revenge plan bear fruit or will we have some SHOCKING TWISTS of a SHOCKING REVELATORY NATURE to sit through first? What do you think?

Why would you want to watch this? If you're after a poor-to-mediocre thriller it's not like you aren't spoiled for choice. Hell, if you're after a poor-to-mediocre thriller starring Clive Owen there's still a choice. While we quite like the Clive round here, in fact he's our second favourite Clive after Sir Clive Sinclair, here he's hamstrung by a rather flat Yank accent and a character who's just a little too understated to fall squarely behind. Perhaps strangely, if this wasn't such a horrendously pulpy outing it would be a far more effective portrayal, but it just doesn't sit well with the general wild stretching that the scheming he's caught up in demands.

Aniston is, well, present. That's a little unfair, but when LaRoche's sidekick Dexter (Xzibit) makes more of an impact in his six or so lines then in terms of the female lead's performance something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Cassel's accent is so broad you can almost smell the garlic. It's almost unbalancing to see him onscreen not riding a bicycle, resplendent in beret and blue and white striped jersey, a fine string of onions around his neck tootling happily on an accordion. A-haw-he-haw.

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The problems that Derailed face in truth have little to do with its actors, even when hamstrung by some exceedingly clumsy dialogue. The stumbling block is that the central thrust of the narrative is really rather silly. Should you make the critical error of (heaven forfend) thinking about what's going on it all falls apart under a weight of coincidence and in a few cases, horrendously, things you have to make up your own explanation for, assuming you care enough to do so. I'd love to think that this was an example of a scriptwriter giving us credit for the intelligence to do a little homework, but option b) forgotten loose ends seems more in keeping with the theme of the piece.

It seems fashionable to get torn into this film, but it's truthfully not bad enough to warrant it. I say this with the ironclad certainty of someone who's suffered through a weekend of extreme rubbish nary two weeks ago. If little else, Derailed generates enough momentum to dissuade you from questioning its many foibles too deeply while watching it, however this in no way excuses them.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 2/5 TippyMarks.

IMDB Idiotwatch

Author: jkotynek

"I was surprised the filmmakers decided to call the BN&SF line the "red line". This is reserved for CTA rapid-transit trains. As a BN&SF rider, I'm angry at this misrepresentation.
What do you think?
** John Kotynek"

I think that calling a train line by the wrong name is pretty much the least of this film's worries. I'd love to think this was an ironic post.

Mikael Hafstrom
Cast list:
Vincent Cassel (Philippe LaRoche)
Clive Owen (Charles Schine)
Jennifer Aniston (Lucinda Harris)
Addison Timlin (Amy Schine)
Melissa George (Deanna Schine)
RZA (Winston Boyko)
Xzibit (Dexter)