One of the new releases of summer 2020, Unhinged is definitely different. Listed on IMDB as an Action Thriller, it stars Russell Crowe as an unstable man (just called ‘Man’) who focuses all his anger on one woman after a disagreement at an intersection.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from a film that I knew was about road rage. Was every scene going to happen in cars or on the road? Would other motorists intervene? Would it just end up in a pile up? I’m sticking firmly with my ‘no spoilers’ policy, but what I will say is that if you let it, the movie will suck you in and take you for a ride – so fasten your seatbelt!
There is only minimal background given to Crowe’s character, but that aligns us firmly with the perspective of Caren Pistorius, who plays Rachel. The initial focus of the film is on Rachel, rather than on ‘the Man’, and I think for this reason, we empathise with her and her situation more. The performances of the co-leads are such that you will find yourself asking ‘what is this guy’s problem?’ along with Rachel, while also being very convinced that for whatever reason, this Man is a serious problem now.
That said, I found myself frustrated with Rachel a couple of times, as her panic kicked in, and was internally screaming ‘why are you doing that? Call the police!’ But if I held that against every action or horror film I watched… well, I wouldn’t watch many. This isn’t a documentary, it’s a thriller, and it definitely delivers on that.
The characters are explored in a fresh way – you know something’s a bit different if afterwards you’re thinking ‘what would happen if someone did that to me? Who would they call? Who could get hurt?’ There’s also some good improvised use of everyday objects as weapons, which reinforces the idea that this isn’t a movie, or a man with a plan, it’s someone who is operating solely under the fever of ‘red mist’.
I also think the casting choice of a slightly older man as the antagonist was a great choice. It subtly hints that the climax of the movie is not just that, but it’s also the climax of a life-long struggle with anger – and potentially mental health. You almost feel as though if the Man was asked at the end 'why ARE you doing this?' he'd have to pause for a moment to try and remember what triggered the latest trail of destruction.
The movie is adrenalin-charged from the moment it starts and it rarely takes its foot off the pedal to let you catch your breath.
Almost every review I’ve read on IMDB says that this movie will make you think twice about being rude to another driver, and for me, that speaks to the success of this film. Yes, it’s more philosophical at the start before the tension escalates, but if that’s the one main takeaway the audience has, I think director Derrick Borte has probably achieved what he set out to do.
Which is probably to scare the manners back into anyone with a driving license.
Overall rating: Not everyone’s cup of tea, but definitely worth a look!
Check it out on IMDB here.