Americans haven’t really been acquainted with director Mikael Hafstrom and after seeing this movie, they might not want to be. In his first American film, the Swedish director fills his latest work with unnecessary humor and a lot of predictable scenes toward the end. Derailed doesn’t close the deal like a first-class suspense thriller should.
The film revolves around the affair between Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston) and Charles (Clive Owen). Charles eventually wins over Lucinda in arguably the most memorable scene of the film. He uses a tacky pickup line, saying that he could kiss her without, well, kissing her. Although that doesn’t seem to make any sense, it manages to arouse Lucinda’s sexual interest in him, so much that they get a hotel room together with adultery on their minds.
Their rendezvous goes wrong when a raspy-voiced French gunman named Phillippe (Vincent Cassel) enters their unlocked room, knocks out Charles and rapes Lucinda. Without giving away too many details from that point on, Derailed begins to take too many wide turns and develops impractical climaxes.
Like Charles’ character in the film, the casting director evidently had to pay off a debt to someone by casting rapper RZA as Winston, the level-headed, odd-job employee that is out to avenge Charles’ mugging. Not to take anything away from his musical talent, but of all the well-known hip-hop artists turned actors, RZA couldn’t have been the best available. His lack of experience is evident. The duo of RZA and Clive Owen on screen is comical in itself. Perhaps a film featuring Beanie Sigel and Pierce Brosnan will be in theaters soon.
Rapper Xzibit also appears in the film as Phillippe’s sidekick. He, like RZA, is in the film strictly for humor, not because of his acting abilities. For whatever reason, the writers thought it was vital to make jokes about Charles’ briefcase throughout the whole film. It was a little funny the first time, but it quickly grew old.
While helping his daughter write a book report, Charles explains, “The writer intrigues the reader so you don’t know what is coming next.” Clearly, the writers underestimated how smart a movie audience really is. This film grows more predictable the longer it goes on. If it were only an hour long, then it would have had a chance.
Despite a sexy performance in an uncharacteristic role by Jennifer Aniston, as well as a solid effort by Clive Owen and Vincent Cassel, the rest of the cast is basically irrelevant. On top of that, the ending is cheesy and cliche. Nonetheless, though it obviously isn’t Oscar material, it is still entertaining. Derailed was like a rough train ride. It’s an experience, but you’re relieved when it’s over.
Christopher Guest can be reached at email@example.com.