‘Unhinged’ Review — Simply Entertaining B-Movie Schlock

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Unhinged Review

The Russell Crowe road rage thriller Unhinged has been trying to stake its claim as the first film to open in theaters amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has been ravaging the United States. Of course, that insistence on being first has resulted in a number of delays for the film directed by Derrick Borte. Well, despite the practically non-existent efforts of the American government to contain the deadly virus, theaters are beginning to reopen with certain guidelines of questionable efficacy and Unhinged is set to be the first major theatrical release since March. For what it aims to be, Unhinged is a modestly entertaining schlocky thriller featuring a big, menacing performance by Russell Crowe. However, I don’t know if it’s a good enough movie to risk your health to see in a crowded theaters with recirculating air. After all, critics like myself were given the opportunity to watch the film in the safety of our own homes and not in crowded screening room.

The first we see of Tom Cooper (Crowe), he’s sitting in a massive pick-up truck downing a massive amount of pills before entering a suburban household unleashing a violent fury upon a couple we will later learn is his ex-wife and her new lover. He leaves the scene of the crime with the house ablaze. It is merely the beginning of his horrific rampage.

Elsewhere, Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is a newly single mother trying to balance work and parenting her son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman). Rachel attempts to juggle everything in her life but is often overwhelmed, leaving her with a reputation among her friends and family as perpetually late. This particular day, Rachel is running late on making a work appointment and dropping her son off at school. Stuck in traffic, Rachel is fired from her job because of her constant tardiness. At a stop light that just turned green, Rachel impatiently blares her horn at the massive truck in front of her, and a bad day just got worse. After a verbal confrontation where the madman demands an apology for the rude honking of the horn and Rachel brushes him off, he becomes a relentless and violent stalker leaving behind a path of destruction and death.

There are parts to the screenplay by Carl Ellsworth that are fairly preposterous and crumble under the slightest bit of thought, such as the various technological means Crowe’s Cooper uses to stalk and terrorize his prey. But if you take Unhinged for what it is – a B-movie thriller – it’s easy to forgive the fact that what begins as a chance encounter suddenly becomes an intricately planned campaign of terror.

Unhinged plays out at a quick pace so the logistical aspects of its plot are easy to ignore, and director Derrick Borte gives the audience plenty of moments to indulge in violent mayhem. Face-to-face, Crowe utilizes his stature to be a bulky force of terror, a man of few words but of deadly fury. The other part of the action unfolds in car chases, and the pursuits lead to a few shocking and effective car crashes as many moments of twisted metal come entirely unexpectedly.

An interesting wrinkle to Unhinged comes when Crowe’s Tom Cooper starts to let loose at the inspiration for his rage, an overtly misogynistic screed rooted in Men Rights Activist talking points. Like much white male rage, Cooper is hung up on blaming women and their lawyers for his current plight, oblivious to how his own violent outbursts might have something to do with his crumbling family unit.

As I said before, I don’t think Unhinged is necessarily worth the risk of seeing in an enclosed theater, though if you’re looking for a violent B-movie it’d be a perfect throwback for any local drive-in. This movie isn’t really going to stimulate the intellect. It’s not going to deliver a thoughtful message about male rage and violence. It simply delivers the kind of schlocky thrills you’d want out of a road rage thriller.

Unhinged
  • Overall Score
3

Summary

Russell Crowe loses his cool and his mind behind the wheel in the schlocky B-movie thriller of Unhinged, a movie with little in the way of brains but plenty of absurd violence.

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