Sunday, November 13, 2005

Missing Alfred Hitchcock

Who do you call for help if you’re being blackmailed by a psychopath? Someone with a criminal record himself. Right? Well, okay, most people probably wouldn’t, but the character Clive Owen plays in “Derailed” seems lacking in both smarts and ethics, so that’s one of the mistakes he makes in this less-than-stellar revenge thriller.

Charles Schine (Owen), a husband and father, misbehaves with Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston), a beautiful woman he meets on a commuter train. A ferocious villain named Laroche (Vincent Cassel) finds out and forces Charles into paying him a large amount of money from an account originally earmarked for medical help to treat Charles’ diabetic daughter (Addison Timlin).

Our hero gets in deeper and deeper instead of going to the police. Because he’s worried about protecting Lucinda and about being exposed to his wife as the jerk he is, Charles does practically everything Laroche tells him to at first. But when he finds out what’s really going on, revenge with a capital “R” takes over.

Although I usually enjoy thrillers and revenge movies, “Derailed” left me as cold as Jennifer Aniston’s performance (she’s much better in comedies). No character earned my sympathy (except the diabetic daughter, who has little screen time), and it’s difficult for me to work up interest in a movie with no central character to care about. Owen -- a fine British actor who should have been named the new James Bond -- adopts an American accent that makes him sound like someone with a mouthful of mush. In addition, there’s nothing intriguing about the cinematography; the plot twists are predictable; and the movie ends on a questionable moral note.

Watching “Derailed” made me miss Alfred Hitchcock more than ever.


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