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Thursday, August 20, 2020

[Review] Aptly Titled ‘Unhinged’ Delivers Brutal Thriller on Wheels

In a modern age where we’re glued to our phones and always on the go, road rage is no longer a cute term for inconsiderate drivers. Now it’s a moniker tethered to excessive violence triggered by incidents on the road. The news is filled with stories of fistfights and shoot outs on freeways or at intersections, resulting from escalated anger from being cut off in traffic or similar bad traffic manners. Unhinged dials into the shocking nature of road rage, living up to its apt title with a deranged lead performance and vicious thrills.

Unhinged opens with a startling introduction to our rage-fueled maniac; The Man (Russell Crowe) sits in his pickup truck parked in front of a house, staring intently while he downs a handful of pills and swigs alcohol. He then barges into the home and commits a shocking series of crimes so ruthless that it effectively sets up how dangerous and, well, unhinged, this Man can be. Cut to Rachel (Caren Pistorius), a beleaguered woman struggling to care for her son, Kyle (Gabriel Bateman), amidst a divorce while juggling other job and family obligations. Always running behind and under pressure, a road altercation on the way to Kyle’s school makes her the Man’s latest target. Determined to teach her a lesson, a deadly cat and mouse game ensues.

Directed by Derrick Borte, this thriller stomps down on the gas pedal from the start and never lets up. It’s an onslaught of car chases, crashes, and violence, all at an easy and quick pace. The set pieces and action sequences bring the adrenaline, giving a more extensive scope to an otherwise intimately scaled story. There’s an almost slasher quality to the narrative flow here, as the Man systematically hunts Rachel and murders anyone in his path to get to her.

It’s all tethered by Crowe’s committed portrayal of a disturbed man pushed well past his brink. There’s a chilling calm in his relentless pursuit of Rachel, and his demand for answers, but it’s a barely contained calm- his fury continually threatens to erupt at any moment. Crowe’s performance infuses Unhinged with stakes and an unpredictability that makes this thriller so thrilling. When he does lose his cool, it results in blood-soaked cruelty that leaves you unsure who will survive.

For all the exciting action, there’s a clear commentary at play in Carl Ellsworth‘s (Red Eye) script. Not just on the psychology behind extreme road rage incidents, but on male aggression. The Man’s backstory provides insight into his motivations, but they’re meant to make a bold statement. He targets Rachel because she refuses to apologize, despite his demands for one, and his tirade on people’s self-centeredness and lack of respect in today’s age serves as a heavy-handed soapbox for the underlying thesis. At the other end of the spectrum, we’re meant to relate to Rachel as the everyday overstressed parent trying and failing, but her choices and behavior render her initially unlikable. We only root for her because she has a much more likable child and also because, of course, no one deserves the type of justice the Man doles out.

Unhinged isn’t successful in its hollow messaging at all. Luckily, it puts its action front and center, making it easy to overlook the narrative’s shortfalls and get swept up in the mayhem. It’s a mean-spirited slasher on wheels, and Crowe makes for one intimidating villain. The film may not be as edgy as intended, but Borte makes one lean and efficient thriller that isn’t afraid to get sadistic. And it makes for a fun ride while it lasts. 

Unhinged releases in theaters on August 21, 2020.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3628208/review-aptly-titled-unhinged-delivers-savage-thriller-wheels/

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