Charles Schine (Clive Owen) is a somewhat successful Chicago-based advertising director with alot of balls in the air to juggle- his daughter is stricken with Type I Diabetes, has had unsuccessful liver transplants, and seems in danger of dying of her illness at any given time. Try as he might, her eroding condition seems to be affecting Schine's job performance. His wife Deanna (Melissa George) is a hard working teacher equally distraught, and the combined pressures of busy work lives, ever mounting financial burden and their daughter's downward spiral is slowly eating away at both Charles and Deanna's physical and emotional stamina, as well as their once blissful marriage.
Enter a chance meeting on a commuter train between Charles and sexy, confident financial advisor Lucinda (Jennifer Anston) who is barely managing a marriage of convenience for the sake of their own 12 year old daughter. The chemistry seems immediate between the two, and Charles, seeing a manner of temporary escape from his ever more stressful existance, woos an all too ready and willing Lucinda first to dinner and then to a hotel.
From here things go horribly awry. The two are interrupted and brutally mugged by a heinous man named LaRoche (Vincent Cassel). Not wishing to go to the police for fear of what it would do to their respective marriages, they keep the incident to themselves and LaRoche sees an opportunity to relentlessly blackmail his victims to the tune of every penny they have. Charles, having saved his money for years for a revolutionary and incredibly expensive drug that may cure his daughter, is faced with risking his family by coming clean and going to the police or paying every dime he has to LaRoche thus imperiling daughter Amy's life.
Directed by Swedish film director Mikael Håfström, Derailed is a taught thriller that calls upon erotic film noir, drama, and action as well as serving up a few shocking plot twists to make for a suspense charged ending. While some areas of the plot seem a bit contrived and convenient, when this movie works it works very, very well. I went in prepared for a storyline very different from the one Derailed delivers and as a result was more impressed with the film than I expected to be.
When this movie was released theatrically the media played up the angle that this was the film in which Jennifer Aniston shed her girl next door "Friends" image with a breakout role of sorts. While her screen time is shorter than I had anticipated, she gives a solid performace- coming across as both confident and steamy in a sinfully mature manner. As the movie progresses she adds to the part the proper degree of a woman wronged as well as cool and hard-nosed. Based on this movie there is no reason for relegating Aniston's career to light sitcom comedies.
Before seeing this movie I was under the impression that both Owen and Aniston were given equally meaty roles. Make no mistake about it, this is very much a Clive Owen vehicle and he delivers a spot-on performance. His rugged good looks serve him well as a man capable of being middle class everyman as well as a fairly dangerous individual when backed against a wall. Owen aptly depicts a man unsuccessfully trying to keep his head above quicksand with the entire world around him collapsing. At times ready to crumble, Charles passes a point of fear and enters into a violent madness of his own.
All but stealing the film is French film star Cassel, in a role that gives him ample opportunity to depict a character cruel and venomous, pure poison brought to life. Cold, devilishly calculating and heartlessly violent he easily seems capable of any vile act imaginable without hesitation or regret; LaRoche relishes the sadistic havoc he brings to the lives of his victims. Because of Cassel's character there are some truly jolting moments throughout the movie.
Derailed is presented in a one disc presentation. This is the unrated version with an additional 5 minutes of footage that was not included in the theatrical release. I will make mention of the fact that, while there is no nudity, the depiction of both sexual and physical violence is extremely graphic.
Presentation here is in 2.35:1 widescreen, and for the most part is a good looking, solid transfer. While it is sharp, I expected it to be slightly sharper than it appears. Edge enhancement is very slight and colors are clean and seem accurate.
The audio track is Dolby Digital 5.1 and is clear and easy to understand, a solid if not spectacular track that accomodates the movie very well. A Spanish track is also included.
Of note, there is no commentary track here.
The Making Of Derailed Featurette- A behind the scenes look at the making of the movie which clocks in at eight minutes, with Owen, Aniston and Cassel as well as director Hafstrom and writer Stuart Beattie discussing their take on the film and characters. Its an interesting little piece and worth having a look at once, but pretty typical of the making-of genre.
Deleted Scenes- 3 deleted scenes are included here totaling about 10 minutes in length. The first evolves around daughter Amy's illness and time in the hospital in conference with her physician as well as at her bedside, ending with a tense little snippet of Charles surveying the outside hospital perimeter. The second scene deals a phone call pertaining to Amy's prospective new wonder drug. The third and final deleted scene is a quiet sitting in a hospital waiting room between Charles and wife Deanna where she gives up a secret of her own. There is really nothing here that would have added much to the story and I can see why they were cut from the film.
Derailed is a solid thriller with many good performances given throughout. While there are some flaws here and there its still a very serviceible vehicle. Owen, Aniston and Cassel are all given ample opportunity to shine in their respective roles, and director Håfström does a good job of keeping his audience sympathetic to both victims as well as potential victims in order to deliver some real twists in the end. Recommended.