Film Review: Unhinged

Review By Frances Winston

Directed by: Derrick Borte –  Starring: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, Austin P. McKenzie

Many movies are still choosing to release online rather than in cinemas at the moment, as the industry struggles to find its feet working within the current social distancing restrictions. However there are still one or two new releases for audiences to enjoy, including this offering, starring the Gladiator himself, Russell Crowe, although this is a far cry from his tights and toga glory days. He plays Tom, a boorish, overweight, bitter, unstable and, yes, unhinged, individual.

This is unfortunate for single mother, Rachel (Pistorious) when she has an argument with him, while stuck in traffic. Unable to let it go, he engages in a deadly pursuit of the terrified woman, leaving a trail of destruction behind him, as he vows to make her pay.

As the majority of the film is set in vehicles, there is a claustrophobic feel to it, which serves to add to the tension once it gets going. It’s just a pity it takes so long to build to the point. I’m all for establishing character, but Borte spends what feels like an age introducing Rachel. This is presumably to induce sympathy with the audience, but by the time she has her run-in with Tom, I didn’t really care that much about her.

Pistorious plays terrified well, and has the ugly cry thing down to a tee, but I never found myself truly rooting for her.

Crowe, meanwhile, grunts and shouts his way through the role of Tom. We know he’s a fine actor who can bring multiple layers to a character, but here, it feels like he starts with heightened anger and never comes down. There is no nuance or subtlety to balance out the hyper-aggression.

However, where there is hyper-aggression there is violence, and this has it in spades. There are some extremely vicious scenes, that should serve to make even the most hardened viewer squirm in their seat. Yes, this is quite bloody, and not for the faint-hearted. But that is one of the selling points of a thriller like this.

This did remind me somewhat of a less sophisticated Falling Down, the 1993 Michael Douglas offering, which saw a character go on an increasingly violent rampage, after one life disappointment too many. However, that film did a great job of showing a gradual descent in the character, whereas the titular character here has long since descended, so we never feel for him.

As 90 minutes of escapism, this serves its purpose. It has just enough going on to keep you engaged, and, after months of lockdown, serves as a timely reminder that many people may be on edge at the moment.

Crowe can’t elevate this to the heights it seems to think it deserves, but it’s just the right side of meh to keep you watching.

In Cinemas Now!

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