Mikael Håfström’s by-the-numbers thriller is an enjoyable use of 107 minutes, even if it fails to wow the audience. Clive Owen probably delivers his best leading performance since making the shift to Hollywood (he was disappointing in both King Arthur and Sin City), and his grim and stony countenance is perfect for the conflicted Charles Schine, whose life spins out of control after he makes one bad decision. Actually, he makes more than one bad decision, and herein lies one of the problems with Derailed. There were several moments where Schine has a chance to make things right, and he doesn’t, which makes for an enormously frustrating film. Sure, it’s a thriller, so we’re supposed to be on the edge of our seats, scared of what might happen, but all the same if the first section was as watertight as the last act, then the film would have been a lot better.
Jennifer Aniston is fine. A lot of people seem to think she isn’t up to the big screen roles she’s done recently, but I thought she was quite impressive in The Good Girl, and adequate here. Vincent Cassel is (of course) playing the bad guy, and he is much more restrained than in previous outings such as Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte Des Loups). At least he gets to have a French accent – it seems silly that both Aussie Melissa George and Englishman Owen are sporting American accents. Xzibit is nothing special here, but RZA is great as Owen’s co-worker, delivering a nicely ambiguous performance.
Unfortunately Derailed is fairly predictable, although one of the central themes seems to be ‘it’s okay to kill people… sometimes’ which is daring, and almost works. Fans of thrillers (like me) will always flock to films like this, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.Rating: