The new psychological thriller from Swedish director Mikael (Evil)
Hafstrom might have proven a twisty, twisted addition to the whole
married-person-gets-mixed up-with-a-stranger-and-embroiled-in-a-murder tradition (Fatal Attraction, Unfaithful, etc) if it weren’t so distasteful and stupid. On paper the notion of Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston getting naughty together may have sounded
steamy but, on screen, it wound up dimwitted and dull.
Of course, it didn’t help that Stuart Beattie’s script has more holes than Saddam’s backyard. Virtually all its major plot points are predicated on lapses in logic that would insult the intelligence of an average fourteen year old. And you don’t have to wait long for the first one.
Owen plays a Chicago advertising executive whose daughter is diabetic and whose marriage isn’t as healthy as it once was either. He misses his regular train into town one morning and, when the ticket collector comes around, it turns out he’s forgotten his cash. A half dozen seats away, Aniston offers to pay for him and he, naturally, takes a seat across from her shortly thereafter to say thanks.
They introduce themselves and flirt a little. She tells him that she’s a broker at a prominent firm and shows him a photo of a little girl she carries in her wallet. According to her bio, she’s a golf widow. Her husband’s inattentive. Her daughter keeps her going.
Naturally, Owen makes a point to miss his train the following day and seek her out ostensibly so that he can repay the debt. He has a hard time getting this fetching stranger off his mind. Daydreaming about her in his office the day before, he even went so far as to log onto her company’s website and click on her name. Lapse in logic #1: He calls up a page with a personal description that matches the one Aniston offered on the train, only there’s no official company photo. Hmm, nothing fishy there.
The next thing you know the two have met for drinks, shared their first kiss and climbed into a cab to go hotel hunting. Lapse #2: Jennifer nixes all the high security luxury places but can’t get to the front desk fast enough when they come across a rundown dump on the wrong side of town. Lapse #3: Owen doesn’t bother to lock the door when they enter their skidrow lovenest.
So it may or may not come as a shock when their snuggling is
interrupted by a pistol-weilding thug who proceeds to relieve them of their wallets, savagely beat Owen and then repeatedly violate Aniston while rousing her date periodically to make sure he’s registering the atrocity. It’s a singularly repulsive sequence.
Owen visits Aniston in the lobby of her company’s headquarters a number of times afterward (Lapse Alert). He thinks they should tell the police what happened. She doesn’t want to, claiming she couldn’t bear it were her husband and daughter to find out what she was up to in that squalid dive. She’s only marginally sympathetic when their attacker (Ocean Twelve’s Vincent Cassel) starts
calling Owen and demanding ever larger sums of hush money. In a scene straight out of Fatal Attraction, he even pays a visit to Owen’s home pretending to be a business associate and making perfectly clear how easy it would be for him to add his wife and daughter to his list of victims.
What’s a fellow to do? On one hand, there’s a madman threatening his
family and draining savings earmarked for his daughter’s life-saving medical treatment. On the other, there’s a hot chick who’d prefer to keep the police out of it. Tough choice. If you happen to be a character trapped in a laughably bad script.
Naturally, we wind up with Owen going mano a mano with the maniac in a series of lapse-happy scenes. And not being terribly surprised by the script’s big last minute twist. Anyone who can’t see this one coming should be legally required to wear prescription lenses to the cineplex.
Gratuitously brutal, chronically preposterous, abysmally unoriginal,
pretty much pointless and virtually 100% free of credible characters, Derailed represents career lows for its stars while marking an unpromising English language debut for its director. It’s difficult to imagine why any of the talented people involved in this instantly forgettable affair would have been tempted to bother.
Unless, of course, they were being blackmailed too.