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Mikael Håfström
Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Xzibit, RZA, Addison Timlin, Melissa George, Vincent Cassel
Writing Credits:
Stuart Beattie, James Siegel (novel)

They Never Saw It Coming.

A married ad exec (Owen) meets a woman (Aniston) on his morning subway commute, and before long, they're having a hot affair. But the fling turns into something more dangerous when a criminal confronts and blackmails them.

Box Office:
$22 million.
Opening Weekend
$12.211 million on 2443 screens.
Domestic Gross
$36.020 million.

Rated NR

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 112 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 3/21/2006

• Deleted Scenes
• “The Making of Derailed” Featurette
• Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Derailed: Unrated Version (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 28, 2006)

Although Jennifer Aniston spent much of 2005 on the covers of magazines, the publicity had next to nothing to do with her work. She appeared in two movies that year, neither of which made much of a dent with audiences. The romantic comedy Rumor Has It took in $42 million, while the film noir Derailed nabbed a mere $36 million. Maybe 2006 will become her breakout year as a movie star, but 2005 went down as one in which she excelled solely as fodder for gossip.

Derailed introduces us to Charles Schine (Clive Owen) in jail and then flashes back to show how he ended up there. We move a few months into the past to meet his wife Deanna (Melissa George) and teen daughter Amy (Addison Timlin). Amy suffers from a potentially life-threatening form of diabetes. That causes stress, and Charles also suffers through problems at his job.

On the way to work, Charles meets a sexy stranger on the train. When he comes up short for a ticket, Lucinda Harris (Aniston) covers for him, and some sparks ignite. Charles makes sure they continue to see each other in these social situations, and he clearly feels tempted to get involved romantically despite his feelings of guilt.

Charles and Lucinda eventually follow through on this and end up in a cheap hotel. Before they get it on, a thug named LaRoche (Vincent Cassel) busts in on them. He robs them, beats up Charles and rapes Lucinda. Charles wants to go to the cops, but she refuses because she says that her husband will leave her if he hears of the affair and she’ll lose her daughter.

Matters don’t stop there. LaRoche continues to hound and threaten Charles. He makes demands for additional money and won’t stop. The movie follows the twists and turns of the various complications.

Perhaps if I didn’t enter Derailed with the knowledge that it was a film noir, it’s possible the film might not have seemed so predictable. Or perhaps not, for it suffers from so many stretches of logic that burden it.

Some of these seem more subjective than others. In that vein, there’s the notion of Aniston as a femme fatale. She exhibits such a sweet, nice personality that it becomes awfully difficult to accept her as someone with ulterior motives. She’s certainly attractive enough for the role, but she fails to pull off the spark and dimensionality required.

Then there’s the LaRoche character. When first seen, he appears as nothing more than a common hood. However, he soon turns out to be a chameleon who can take on different roles. This doesn’t gibe with his initial appearance. Why would a guy with his savvy and smarts be stalking cheap hotels?

Because it’s a plot device, one of the many cheesy ones required to make the story move. The film telegraphs everything so blatantly that it loses any potential impact. There’s nary a story point that we don’t see coming miles in advance.

A predictable thriller is an oxymoron. Derailed never becomes thrilling or dramatic because it lacks ingenuity or real intrigue. Geez, the fact it starts with Charles in jail even lets us know something about his fate! Sure, we don’t know why he’s there, but this simply makes matters even easier to read. Derailed offers a plodding film noir that never takes flight. Even its attempts at surprise make little sense.

Note that this DVD offers an unrated cut of Derailed. It lasts five minutes longer than the “R”-rated theatrical edition. I’d love to detail the differences, but I don’t know what they are. The DVD doesn’t list them, and I never saw the “R”-rated cut.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Derailed appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer seemed acceptable but not anything special.

Sharpness was usually fine. Some moments came across as moderately soft and ill-defined, but the flick mostly appeared reasonably accurate and concise. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I noticed a bit of edge enhancement. A few source flaws also crept into the transfer. The flick could be somewhat grainy, and I saw a few specks.

Colors tended to be subdued. Some of that stemmed from production design, as this kind of flick prefers a low-key palette. However, I thought the tones were a little weaker than normal, at least during the first act. Blacks appeared pretty deep and dense, while shadows were clean and smooth. Enough small concerns manifested themselves to make this a “B-“ transfer, but it was perfectly watchable.

Not too many sparks flew from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Derailed, but it served the material well. The soundfield concentrated on the front channels, though some elements opened things up to an acceptable degree. Music showed nice stereo presence, and the effects offered a good feeling of environment. A few action sequences added a little more zest, though these weren’t frequent. Instead, the mix usually stayed with general ambience, which it delivered well.

Audio quality was solid. Speech seemed natural and distinctive, with no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music was concise and lively. Effects fell into the same category, as they showed good accuracy and definition. Though the soundtrack never became anything special, it worked fine for this sort of movie.

Only a few extras round out the package. We get three Deleted Scenes. Viewed via the “Play All” option, they fill a total of 10 minutes, 38 seconds. At seven minutes, 27 seconds, the first clip – “Amy’s Sequence” – is easily the meatiest. It shows teenage Amy in the hospital and a little more of Charles’ paranoia about LaRoche. It’s almost totally superfluous, though at least it gives both Timlin and George more to do.

As for the other scenes, we get “No More Dialysis” (1:11) and “Deanna’s Affair” (2:00). “Dialysis” is unneeded exposition, while “Affair” is unnecessary. None of the cut scenes belonged in the film, so they were good omissions.

A featurette called The Making of Derailed goes for eight minutes, 15 seconds. It offers movie snippets, behind the scenes shots, and comments from director Mikael Hafstrom, actors Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Xzibit, RZA and Vincent Cassel, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and screenwriter Stuart Beattie. They go over basic plot and character points, casting and performances, and the work of the director. This is the standard promotional fluff, so don’t expect to learn anything from it.

The set includes the theatrical trailer for Derailed and a few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Scary Movie 4, Transamerica and The Matador.

A rather mediocre thriller, Derailed never engages. It’s too easy to read as it makes sure we can tell where it’ll go way in advance. The DVD offers decent picture and audio but skimps on extras. Pass on this lackluster effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.4705 Stars Number of Votes: 17
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