Movie Review: Unhinged
Road rage is something I have merely witnessed, and not experienced. My brief time behind the wheel of a car is not by any stretch of the imagination worth detailing, for it was only a few lessons. But I have been in cars with road rage present, and I’ve seen some rather violent, volatile responses from horribly inept drivers. Unhinged looks to stretch the random feeling of fury behind the wheel of a car into a feature-length thriller in this Russell Crowe-starring piece. A flimsy premise, I’m sure you’ll understand, but one that can be explored rather easily and expanded upon in such a way that we can at least salvage some engaging thrills. We can dream, anyway, because Unhinged doesn’t quite manage it.
Family drama, a divorce at the centre of it all falling to the wayside in the face of a dangerous, shall we say, unhinged man. I’m sure you see what I did there, but Unhinged relies strongly on us being invested in the relationship of newly-divorced mother Rachel (Caren Pistorious) and her son, Kyle (Gabriel Bateman). After a brief encounter that leads to some rage-induced interactions, we see a somewhat engaging game of cat and mouse, often relying on the decent performance of Pistorious. Unfortunately, despite a decent performance, her character is the dumbest human being on the planet. Rash, inconsiderately stupid decisions that lead to ill-fated consequences later down the line. Happenstance is one thing, but the conclusions characters come to in Unhinged are embarrassing moments of weak writing.
A nice change of pace for Crowe, who seems to be revelling in his post-Gladiator years, turns in an amicable performance as Tom Cooper, an unstable driver behind the wheel of a large automobile. His presence and lack of dialogue in the moments of real tension make for some fairly memorable stuff. It’s not the most demanding work for the Oscar winner, to grimace into the camera and wave plot devices at our protagonist from time to time. Still, he does get his occasional time to shine, every now and then he has to pull together the rather dumb writing or laughable premise together. The writing here bounces between underwhelming and predictable to outrageously silly and stupidly coincidental. Rachel’s removal of her phone password sets up the entire second and third act of the film, and from there it just degrades itself massively.
At the end of the day, Unhinged is simply Spielberg’s Duel crafted for degenerates of the Fortnite era. Falling Down for those whose main complaint was the lack of car-bound scenes. Conventional, fine, nothing out of the ordinary. It’s not a film that is at all engaging, nor is it one that will frustrate the average movie-goer. Absolutely harmless, but lacking the pulpy, punchy fun I had expected of such a scenario. Ironically slow in pacing for a film that depends on fast car chases and the tension of burning rubber, Unhinged is a forgettable movie, one that’ll eat away at an evening, and I’m hard pressed to ask for anything more than a time-killer with this one.