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DERAILED(director: Mikael Hafstrom; screenwriters: Stuart Beattie/based on the novel “Collateral” by James Siegel; cinematographer: Peter Biziou; Peter Boyle; music by Edward Shearmur; cast: Clive Owen (Charles Schine), Jennifer Aniston (Lucinda Harris), Melissa George (Deanna Schine), Vincent Cassel (LaRoche), RZA (Winston Boyko), Xzibit (Dexter), Addison Timlin (Amy Schine), Giancarlo Esposito (Detective Church), (Dexter), Tom Conti (Elliot Firth); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura; Weinstein Company and Miramax Films; 2005)
“Glossy, mundane and trashy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Weinstein brothers in their post-Miramax period after their bitter split with Disney are thinking ugly in this senseless thriller, their inaugural presentation. Writer Stuart Beattie based it on the novel “Collateral” by James Siegel. Under Swedish film-maker Mikael Håfström’s (“Evil”) unimaginative direction, his first American film, it’s kept glossy, mundane and trashy. In an attempt to delve into film noir territory, it imitates many other noirs (“Double Indemnity” for one) but never finds itself on the right track to establish itself as much more than an exploitation film with unfulfilled aspirations to be arty in a profane way and ultimately burdened with an underlying dissonance that could not be smoothed over in its weak characterizations and narrative nor in its unconvincing revenge conclusion.

Nice guy, family man, suburbanite advertising executive Charles Shine (Clive Owen) is on a commuter train to his Chicago office when he catches a glimpse of the sexy gams of high-powered financial executive Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston) adorned in black hosiery and fantasizes about what she would be like in bed. The married woman pays his fare when he realizes he left in a rush without his wallet. This leads to his first time cheating, as he will in a short time take her to a seedy hotel. Before they can get it on, an intruder bursts in, LaRoche (Vincent Cassel), and robs them, breaks Shine’s nose when he tries to protect Lucinda and then the brute repeatedly rapes Lucinda. She refuses to go to the police because of her husband. He reluctantly agrees and reports it only as a mugging. Things escalate when LaRoche tries to shake him down for some big money, and Lucinda still refuses to file a police report.

The relation with Shine’s harried teacher wife, Deanna (Melissa George), is distant and sexless. His pre-teen diabetic daughter Amy (Addison Timlin), whom he dotes on, needs a new costly miracle drug that is not covered by the insurance companies and the couple has saved up over $100,000 for the last seven years to make sure she gets that drug as soon as it gets approved to be marketed.

Charles is relieved of the money saved for Amy by over-the-top baddie LaRoche, in a ruthless blackmail scheme. As expected we will see this gentle homebody soul, depicted as one big “dumb schmuck,” pick himself off the mat and become a vigilante to get his revenge on the baddie. How he turns into a Charles Bronson type overnight is too inconceivable to grok, and moves everything into nonsense and not worth thinking about.

Aniston as the femme fatale failed to click; Owen as the schleppy vic seemed to be a bit of a reach, as he has too strong of a persona as an actor for that part; Cassel seems to be having fun stroking his devil’s goatee and though menacing is more cartoonish than real; RZA hams it up and makes the most of his supporting role as the ex-con mailroom buddy of Shine’s who gets into a scene that’s over his head. It all adds up to a film of miscast actors and one that lacks logic or suspense.

REVIEWED ON 11/12/2005 GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”