Film review: Russell Crowe’s Unhinged is a ‘welcome reason to return’ to the cinema
PUBLISHED: 18:14 18 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:28 19 August 2020
Unhinged Film Holdings LLC
Film reviewer Paul Steward assesses new Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged.
As cinemas gradually begin to reopen, most are showing a selection of classic films in an attempt to coax audiences back to the big screen.
However, Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged is one of the first new movies to raise its head above the parapet.
Crowe stars as Tom Cooper, a man on the edge after losing his wife and job in quick succession.
When harassed mum Rachel (Caren Pistorius), running late on the school run, leans on her horn a little too long whilst behind him at an intersection, it’s the final straw for the unstable truck driver.
At first ominously pulling alongside her family saloon, Cooper attempts to coerce an apology, but when Rachel refuses, she becomes the target of his broiling fury, putting herself and everyone she knows in danger.
It’s an unusual part for an Oscar-winning actor, but Crowe throws himself wholeheartedly into the role.
Hunched behind the steering wheel of his pick-up truck, the actor is heavyset and sweaty, and full of the indignant fury of a man wronged.
Much like his award-winning turn in Gladiator, he is seeking retribution, however this time his intentions are far less noble.
South African actress Pistorius takes on the role of his unfortunate target Rachel, a single mum with her own troubles.
Negotiating a messy divorce and coping with the financial struggles that brings, she is desperately trying to get her son Kyle to school on time, when she runs foul of Cooper.
Up-and-coming actor Gabriel Bateman is Kyle, a young face you may recognise from last year’s Child’s Play remake.
Together they make an engaging mother and son pairing, as they transition from terrified prey to determined survivors.
The film, written by Carl Ellsworth and directed by Derrick Borte, is the sort of lower budget B movie that is not made as often nowadays.
It has many similarities to 1990s classic Falling Down, but without the clever social commentary.
After its absorbing road rage opening, the film moves into territory which is much more absurd.
Crowe becomes an unstoppable lumbering terminator, intent on destroying Rachel – and any innocent bystander who happens to cross his path – and the film’s remaining shreds of realism start to ebb away.
As the action ramps up, there is still fun to be had in the spectacular vehicular carnage, and the film’s tight 90 minute runtime is very welcome in this era of bloated two-hour plus epics.
The plot (innocuous altercation sparks a violent rampage) feels a little formulaic, but with some good performances and entertaining set pieces, Unhinged is definitely not without its charms and after four months away from the cinema, it’s a very welcome reason to return.
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