Director: Derrick Borte
Cast: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, Austin P. McKenzie, Devyn A. Tyler
Synopsis: Academy Award-winner Russell Crowe stars in Unhinged, a psychological thriller that takes road rage to an unpredictable and terrifying conclusion. Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is running late getting to work when she crosses paths with a stranger (Crowe) at a traffic light. Soon, Rachel finds herself and everyone she loves the target of a man who feels invisible and is looking to make one last mark upon the world by teaching her a series of deadly lessons. What follows is a dangerous game of cat and mouse that proves you never know who is on the road.
Academy-Award winner Russell Crowe’s road-rage revenge thriller is the first major release to screen in cinemas as coronavirus lockdown slightly lifts in the U.K.
Director Derrick Borte [American Dreamer (2018), London Town (2016), The Joneses (2009)] and screenwriter Carl Ellsworth [Red Eye (2005), Disturbia (2007)] bring us this particularly nasty psycho-thriller, though it is good to see an acting heavyweight like Crowe return to the big screen, as ‘The Man’.
Unhinged is set in some anonymous suburban area of a big city. It has a very shocking opening scene followed by a disturbing montage showing the grim consequences of explosive aggression and road rage.
Caren Pistorious [Slow West (2015), Mortal Engines (2018)] plays Rachel, a recently divorced single mother struggling to balance work stress with parenthood, who in a minor road-rage altercation on a freeway off-ramp blasts her horn loudly at a pickup truck blocking her exit.
Initially it appears we are being given some motivation for the actions of The Man and Rachel; but that soon evaporates, as does the notion that Unhinged is an appeal to have more patience and compassion with others in a harsh society where everyone is under constant pressure, because you never know what the other person is experiencing.
However, any such sentiments soon disappear, with cheap shocks and an orgy of senseless, sadistic violence. The Man, affronted at Rachel’s lack of courtesy, tracks her down and demands a face-saving exchange of apologies. She refuses and The Man’s homicidal- psychopath-with-issues unleashes Hell. After following Rachel to a gas station, he steals her phone and begins a vengeful vendetta of violence against her friends and family that escalates into a full-blown fight to the death.
Crowe turns in a dynamic, brooding, performance as an irredeemably grotesque, unironic septic tank of toxic masculinity and there is a competent ensemble cast. Paul Buckley’s score is pounding and loud, and there are some spectacular car stunts, but the scenes of bloody violence seem too casual and meaningless.
Unhinged may be intended as pure catharsis for those locked-down too long; but released in the current charged climate of fierce political polarisation, Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo movement, pandemic panic and domestic violence, it has a worrying message that women should be careful to avoid upsetting violent misogynists who are inclined to vent their rage.
In cinemas now
Images courtesy of: Solstice Studios