Acclaimed Swedish filmmaker Mikael Håfström makes his American debut with this movie, and his reputation brings him an international cast that includes Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Vincent Cassel, Melissa George and rappers RZA and Xzibit. Despite the hodgepodge of talents, the acting isn't an issue here. Clive Owen brings as much as he can to the lead role as written, which is pretty much just a guy constantly reacting to what's going on around him. And even though it's harder to buy the Aniston in a darker role than a light romantic comedy, I think she holds her own for most of it. The main pair share a good chemistry in their few scenes together (seriously, Aniston disappears for a giant chunk of this movie), but Owen is charming enough that he could have chemistry with a used dishtowel. Cassel does what he does best, playing a slimy French guy, and even the two hip hop stars aren't too bad.
The problem with DERAILED is that this kind of thriller that needs subtlety and finesse to work, two things the film sorely lacks. The script by COLLATERAL screenwriter Stuart Beattie feels clunky and boringly simple, even when it's throwing twists and turns at the audience. The movie desperately wants to be a character drama, and with Owen's acting it could easily be successful in this regard, but unfortunately the writing doesn’t go deep enough to really explore Charles to a degree that's effective. On the opposite end, if you're expecting DERAILED to be a tense thriller with action and suspense, you'll be pretty disappointed. There's the occasional scene along those lines, but the majority of the movie is just the main character trying to figure out what to do.
This may be oversimplifying things a bit, but another major issue with DERAILED is that it's hard to feel bad for a guy who essentially gets in to all this trouble because he cheats on his wife. Owen's character may have a strained home life with his sick daughter, but he's still got a loving wife, a great kid and a successful family that would make most people jealous. The movie does a good enough job to present his situation that would lead him to seek out another woman, but not good enough to feel empathetic or justify his actions. And by the final act, when the main character takes all the money he was going to use to save his dying daughter to pay off his blackmailer, instead of just being a man and admitting his transgressions to his wife, it's pretty hard to care if he makes it or not.
And then there's the ending, which is just too much. And I'm not talking about the first twist, which is incredibly obvious if you've even seen the preview, but the coda that unnecessarily wraps everything up too nicely in an unbelievable way, and feels like it was added on by a test audience. Up to that point I was still on the fence about DERAILED but that pushed me to the negative side.
Deleted Scenes (10:39): Only a few that don't add much. There's a painfully long and unnecessary bedtime story and a scene where Owen’s wife admits to having an affair, which would make this movie a comedy if it was actually included.
Making Of DERAILED (8:15): A standard fluff piece where everyone describes their characters and sucks up to one another, even bragging about Xzibit's talents.
Extra Tidbit: When Vincent Cassel's character speaks French to Clive Owen's daughter in the film, it translates to "My name is Laroche, like a little rock who will soon screw your father from behind."