Tasteless rape simulation, a mediocre script, and a budding Oscar-worthy performance by Jennifer Aniston fuel Mikael Hafstrom’s slow-moving action-thriller Derailed.
The worst thing about Derailed are the holes in the plot. Charles Schine (Clive Owen) and his wife have saved up $100 000 over seven years of work to buy some very expensive medicine to support his daughter with type 1 diabetes. While traveling to work via the train, he happens upon a stunning Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston). The two develop an immediate lust for the other and after a few meetings, they rent a hotel room to satisfy their longing for an affair. While in the room, a thief breaks in and not only mugs them, but rapes Lucinda and pummels Charles as well.
The rapist-thief, LaRoche (Vincent Cassel,) leaves Charles bruised and bloodied unconscious on the floor to wake up to the guilt of not protecting his mistress. He wants to tell the police but Lucinda begs him not to or her husband will know what they were planning to do. Things intensify when LaRoche blackmails Charles. He demands the $100 000 Charles and his wife were saving for their daughter or he will kill the Schine family. I understand how guilty he would feel not being able to stop a rape, but to choose Lucinda’s marriage (when they both chose to enter into that hotel by their own choice) over his daughter’s health, there’s an issue. Even if he happened to develop enough feelings for Lucinda to rival his care for his daughter, if he refused to go to the police in order to save her marriage, why wouldn’t he take the matter into his own hands and bring weapons to a meet up with LaRoche? Instead of fighting the blackmail and saving his daughter and Lucinda’s marriage, he would rather crumble under pressure and hand over seven years of saving.
The rape in the film is a chore to watch. It’s never a comfortable thing to watch a rape scenes, and well I do applaud Derailed for having a nudity-free rape scene, it was still poorly done. It’s always better to imply rape than to show it, and this rape lasts for a very long 45 seconds, switching between showing Charles’ beaten face, Lucinda’s screams of pain, and LaRoche raping her as he makes sickening comments. “I’m going for round four” was particularly nauseating.
Other than the ending and a few dark comedy scenes, the script is poorly written and bland. The movie starts off very slow and it is hard to keep interest. There is an extremely strange prostitution scene and I can’t even figure out why it was written. Charles is waiting to meet up with LaRoche when a prostitute stumbles upon him. She wants to hook up but he refuses, as he is dealing with saving his family from LaRoche’s threats. A police car pulls up and instead of arresting the woman illegally soliciting her body for sex, the cop talks chummy with her before asking Charles why the prostitute isn’t good enough for him. The cop won’t let Charles leave unless he gives the girl some money, even though he didn’t ask for or want her services. It was so unnecessary it made me groan. Lucinda and Charles’ scenes together had boring lines, Charles’ scenes with his co-workers and his friends were flat, the scenes with the villains were too short, and the family scenes had no substance.
There are, however, some superb qualities in Derailed that saved it from being a disaster. The twist ending is a 4 star ending, filled with more than one surprise. When everything comes together, the writing is brilliant. The whole movie suddenly becomes genius. The writing — though overall not so great — does show glimmers of hope throughout the film as well with its dark comedy, such as when Charles’ friend is killed and he is being accused of his murder. The great cast also helped to make this movie as good as it is. Jennifer Aniston is not in it as much as you would expect from a co-star, but shines bright as a great actress in the parts she is in, Vincent Cassel is incredibly scummy and disgusting as the antagonist, and Clive Owen is strong leading man. Derailed starts off actually derailed but ends up on the right tracks.