More than likely, Derailed is a film about masculinity in crisistm.
All the telltale signs are there: An impotent husband and father who only becomes active when he’s able to exact revenge, a family that renders the man of the household invisible, anxieties over the nature of a 9 to 5 job. Six-foot-two Clive Owen even slouches toward beating after beating until he’s able to reclaim his inner warrior and becomes a spirit of wrath and vengeance tm.
But those expecting Owen to retrieve some of the force of his role in Closer or Jennifer Anniston to revive her performance in Good Girl are in for a shock: Derailed is inconsequential, mediocre and predictable. It probably would be better if you didn’t expect more, but it is far less than it should be.
Charles (Owen) is a successful advertising executive living in the suburbs of Chicago. A former English teacher, he’s now a perpetual commuter trapped on the edges of the American Dream. His house is as busy as a subway station, he and his wife Deanna barely communicate as they rush to get out the door and only seem connected through their diabetic daughter who requires constant monitoring and medications. Like Charles’ and Deanna’s marriage, the daughter is mostly dead.
One morning Charles meets Lucinda (Anniston) on the train on his way into the office. She is an investment banker with reptilian charms; he’s a beaten-down loser, and they begin to flirt with one another. Charles and Lucinda are sharks in heat, circling one another in the tight tank of the commuter train, and it’s difficult to muster anything but contempt for these white-collar creeps.
After several meetings they decide to bring their relationship to the next step: Seedy sex. The pair lurches toward a run-down motel, but the filmmakers gratefully spare us that particular horror. Before Charles and Lucinda can fulfill their cycle to disappointment, remorse and regret they’re assaulted mid-tryst. The thug is an unlikely French man, short and more frail looking than Owen, who beats Charles senseless then appears to rape Lucinda.
Afterwards the Frenchman – played by Vincent Cassel – blackmails Charles, and the sap pays, riddled with feelings of guilt and shame. The first extortion is only a rehearsal for later ones, however, and Charles dips into the family savings for his daughter’s next liver transplant to pay off the thug. When he balks after talking to Lucinda she tells him that she has gotten an abortion following the rape, heightening his feelings of guilt. 
Anyone familiar with the fine made-for-TV films on the Lifetime Television Network will be able to work out the plot twists, which is only one of the film’s shortcomings. Derailed’s dialog is too sharp, too rehearsed; language seduced by its own cleverness; and Owen and Anniston give lackluster performances.
Nothing flickers or shines in Derailed. The actors seem disengaged, almost bored, by the trite storyline. For a film about a sexy tryst, Derailed is conspicuously sterile and dull, drained of anything remotely thrilling. It is destitute, cheerless, and full of self-loathing and contempt, and the inevitable revenge motif feels forced.
Masculinity might be under attack, and like a Greek tragedy blood may be the only thing capable of redeeming it. But blood without passion is like flirting with a Polaroid picture.


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