It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Derailed" cannot be about what it seems to be about, not with a title like "Derailed," but the story works if you're willing to meet it halfway. Critics of thrillers are hard on the new ones, applying logic with a merciless zeal, but they cave in when the thriller is from the 1940s. Imagine this movie with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray and it would work for you. Better still, just rent "Double Indemnity" and the hell with it.
"Derailed" stars Clive Owen as Charles, a man with a lot of problems on his mind. His beloved daughter has diabetes and her third kidney transplant has just failed. He has been fired from his big account at work. When we meet him, he realizes his wife borrowed money from his billfold and he can't pay the fare on his commuter train. Luckily, the movie is set in Chicago, which means that a smart and sexy brunette with sheer stockings and high heels offers to pay for his ticket. That is so typically Chicago.
Certain spoilers follow. Others do not. The brunette is Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston). He senses an attraction between them. He wants to meet her again, allegedly to repay the train fare, more likely to tempt himself with her appeal. She smiles back. They exchange business cards. They meet for lunch. Lunch becomes dinner. Dinner becomes a hotel. Sex becomes a necessity, and then a brutal man with a French accent (Vincent Cassel) breaks into the room, knocks Charles almost unconscious and rapes Lucinda.
Charles tells his wife Deanna (Melissa George) that he worked late at the office and then was mugged. Deanna buys this story, I guess. She is one of the more trusting wives in movie history. But the nightmare is not over. The mugger, named Philippe, has Charles' name and phone number. He guesses, correctly, that Charles and Lucinda did not call the police (she's married, too). He has blackmail in mind.