a critiQal film review Derailed (2005)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Charles (Owen) has a loving wife and a sick daughter. But when when he meets Lucinda (Aniston) on the train one day, his life changes. Immediately infatuated with her, they get a room together - only to be interrupted by a violent mugger who rapes Lucinda. Now, Charles can't go to the cops without destroying both of their marriages. But what is he going to do when the mugger starts demanding money from him - money that he has saved to buy medications for his daughter?

641 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 12s)
  • ...while the film starts off well, Aniston's lack of depth will cause the viewer's attention to wander, and they will probably guess the major twist before even the midpoint of the film.

Heather, a long-time fan of “Friends” (TV), wanted to see Derailed as soon as she found out Jennifer Aniston was in it. While Aniston is nice to look at, I needed a bit more convincing. However, since the previews looked promising, and Clive Owen showed he could act in the recent Sin City (2005), I agreed to check it out when it hit DVD.

But, would Derailed be worth watching, or is this just another ex-TV star trying to make it on the big screen and failing horribly?

Unfortunately for Brad Pitt’s ex, she doesn’t quite have enough acting ability to play the role she’s given in Derailed. While Aniston seems in her element early on, she doesn’t have what it takes to keep up when the action picks up. Clive Owen does his best to pick up her slack but his acting, while top-notch, is not able to pull the viewer completely into the film all by itself. Sadly, once Jennifer gets in over her head, she’s never allowed to surface, instead wallowing in a slightly confused fog for the remainder of the film.

Rappers Xzibit and RZA put in appearances as well in Derailed, as a thug and a friend of Clive’s, respectively. While neither contribute a whole lot to the film, RZA gets more of a chance to shine, and does his best with what he’s given. Xzibit, on the other hand, just goes through the motions. That’s not too say Xzibit can’t act, it’s just the filmmakers obviously didn’t want to take the risk, so give him very few opportunities to do so.

While Derailed starts off well, Aniston’s inability to keep up detracts a lot from the plot of the film. Sadly, because of this, the viewer will easily guess the major twist before the midpoint of the movie even arrives. After that, it’s just a matter of waiting for the movie to catch up to validate the viewer’s suspicions. It’s unfortunate, as the journey is worth watching if the ending wasn’t so easily guessable.

Knowing the end detracts a lot from what Derailed has to offer the viewer, so it turns out to be a lot less interesting than it could have been. Another example of an interesting plot Derailed by actors in over their head – or in this case, actor, singular.

That’s most unfortunate for Clive Owen, whose career seemed poised to take off into overdrive after his impressive performance in Sin City (2005). Because of Aniston’s lack of acting depth, Derailed mostly falls short of expectations, and as the major star, Clive Owen will unfortunately take the brunt for most of the flack. It’s unfortunate, but maybe it will make him realize he should stay away from other wannabe movie stars, and stick with the real deal from now on.

As for Aniston, she’ll be able to bounce back quicker, as her “Friends” (TV) fanbase will easily forgive her for ruining a movie – especially one most of them didn’t venture to see, as it was such a change from her normal romantic comedy venue.

But then again, maybe I’m being a bit too harsh on Aniston. After all, she’s just lost her husband to another woman. Maybe her heart wasn’t into playing a character that cheats. Whatever the reason, it’s going to give me even more pause the next time I hear she’s in a non-romantic comedy film. After all, why would I want to sit around and watcher another movie get Derailed like this one was?

Of course, if Aniston sticks to films like Rumor Has It, then both Heather and I will be happy. Heather, because it means she can keep reliving the “Friends” (TV) Aniston over and over again, while I’ll be happy because I won’t have to watch her mess up a movie that I actually want to see.

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