'Derailed': On the Right Track
"Derailed" takes the A train all the way to the end of the line. It's fast, slick, stupid, violent fun and, despite the cynically high body count, without serious intention in this world.
Derived from a thriller by James Siegel, a sort of "Brief Encounter" with guns, Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom's film is set in motion when Charlie (Clive Owen) has an affair with Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston), whom he has met on a train.
She's a smart, chic woman and, like Charlie, somewhat worn down by life, oppressed by circumstances and has a mate who no longer lights her fires and she no longer lights his.
So they're trysting the night away, having set up an elaborate ruse to fool their spouses, when suddenly the world goes out of whack: Feral man enters, stage right, through an unchained no-tell hotel door, in the form of Philippe Laroche (Vincent Cassel, who does feral beautifully), with an automatic pistol and a sense of cruel, Hobbesian domination. He pistol-whips Charlie, rapes Lucinda, takes money, credit cards, cell phones, dignity and any sense of the universe as rational. Charlie is ashamed that he could do nothing to overcome his adversary, yet now he's caught in a mesh of lies; Lucinda insists that he not go to the police. Then Philippe calls him: He wants money. What can Charlie do? He is trapped.
Eventually, the movie waltzes toward the absurd, the unbelievable, daring you to break faith, then veering back toward some sort of just-marginal believability. Your connection to it is likely to be determined by your ability to suspend disbelief. Most people can; about one in five simply can't.
It's as Jacobean revenge theater that "Derailed" is on its best footing, documenting how the tired, dispirited, joyless suburban dad finds his inner psycho and takes no prisoners.
-- Stephen Hunter
Derailed R, 120 minutes Contains extreme violence and sexual scenes. Area theaters.