“I don’t think you know what a bad day is, but you’ll find out!”– Russell Crowe as The Man
By Cain Dennis
There is possibly no one better word to describe director Derrick Borte’s “Unhinged” than its title, Unhinged. It is a senseless, violent road rage thriller led by an overblown, seething Russel Crowe, who is extremely entertaining as he chews the scenery and torments a woman named Rachel (Caren Pistorius) in his truck over the course of a day. Every event in Unhinged seems to take place in a world where no one thinks things through, everyone is almost violently detached from the heinous events happening around them, and where third act heroics are based on strategies from Fortnite (I’m not kidding.) But “Unhinged” operates on a level that allows ridiculous events to take place unquestioned, and gave me an opportunity to sit in a movie theater, chow down on some popcorn and turn my brain off for an hour and a half and for that I am grateful. Allow me to take a few minutes to praise, and criticize “Unhinged”.
I’ll start with the film’s star, Russell Crowe. There’s nothing I can say about him that hasn’t been said, or implied by his extensive collection of awards, including Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTA’s, but I’ve truly never seen him like this, for better or for worse. This is a far cry from his Best Actor winning turn in 2001’s “Gladiator” but I’ve never seen Crowe get to let loose like he does in “Unhinged”. He is clearly having a hell of a lot of fun getting to play a maniacal villain hunting a woman and her family down for the crime of honking at him in traffic then not apologizing. Crowe’s character doesn’t have a name, credited only as “The Man”, he arbitrates his twisted version of what is fair and cares not what collateral damage he leaves in his wake. Without Crowe, I have little faith that “Unhinged” would have even gotten a wide release, let alone been the first new film to open theaters after a long string of closures. The character we follow for the majority of the film is Rachel, played by Caren Pistorius, and she does a good enough job. she basically is just there to be tormented by The Man and to get into more and more complicated and dangerous situations as the film goes on. Her main motivation is that she’s trying to protect her son and that works well enough but the young actor who plays the son doesn’t perform up to the level of the other actors in the film, although I do think he has potential. I can’t imagine the difficulty of a young actor being expected to play opposite someone the caliber of a Russell Crowe. Westworld’s Jimmi Simpson also makes an appearance, I really wish that we’d see him in more films.
When you really start to look into the plot, “Unhinged” is extremely flawed, there are many precarious situations that could have been evaded or ended with a phone call, although the film does try to sidestep these arguments in convoluted ways, and it even ignores the realities of how certain things work when it’s convenient, like police not able to respond when The Man is wreaking havoc right by where officers were just seen patrolling. “Unhinged” presents its violence in a fun, carefree way that honestly made my heart pound while sitting and watching. While I never felt much of a connection with the film’s characters, the chaos left in Russell Crowe’s wake is just plain exciting, B-Movie fun, It never gets old seeing crazy things happen, even when there’s not much of a story to back it up.
Unhinged is big, loud, dumb fun and I had a great time watching it. Although I doubt that it will be seen as a giant hit or remembered as an amazing achievement in film, it’s a good excuse to return to the theaters and hopefully have some fun, which is something I think that everyone desperately needs now.
I’m going to rate “Unhinged”