Derailed

Derailed has the look of a hit. For ters, it's a thriller (audiences have a jones for scares — hell, they paid to see the flabby Flightplan). They love Jennifer Aniston (the Friends favorite has had a tough year; here's a chance to show your loyalty). There's also Clive Owen (the Oscar nominee for Closer is not a TV , he's just a terrific actor, which couldn't hurt). What does hurt about Derailed is that it's not very good. The film marks the English-language debut of Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom (Evil), who has lost something in translation — like logic, tension, humor and heart. The James Bond-handsome Owen is cast as Charles Schine, a Chicago family man saddled with troubles at work and at home. Charles catches the eye of Lucinda Harris (Aniston) on his commuter train. Charles is a schlub, but Lucinda is pure femme fatale, a leggy business exec in spike heels shiny enough to reflect her flirty eyes. Excuse me, but the role is a better fit for — yikes — Angelina Jolie than girl-next-door Aniston. The lovebirds — married but not to each other — have barely snuck off to a seedy hotel when an intruder (Vincent Cassel) breaks in, beats up Charles and rapes Lucinda. She can't stand the shame and encourages Charles to pay off the creep when he blackmails them with photos. Director Fritz Lang pulled off this kind of mystery in high style with the 1940s classics The Woman in the Window and Scarlet Street, ring Joan Bennett and Edward G. Robinson. Hafstrom is hamstrung by a Stuart Beattie script that telegraphs all its surprises and by two mismatched, miscast . The strapping Owen as a guy who can't handle himself and cutie-pie Aniston as a witchy woman? I don't think so. Talk about derailed.

From The Archives Issue 385: December 23, 1982