Unhinged

UnhingedSTARS3It’s too early to say, but this might be the turning point where critics determine Russell Crowe’s career changed.  I must say, it’s rather interesting to see an Oscar winner (Gladiator) doing such an unabashedly B-movie.  Crowe was clearly doing prestige pictures in 2012 when he starred as Javert in Les Misérables.  I also consider recent roles in Boy Erased and True History of the Kelly Gang as reputable productions.  However, this is a step in a decidedly different direction.  It happens to the best of them. Bette Davis — one of the greatest actresses who ever lived — succumbed to playing exaggerated personalities too.  To be fair her impressive career spanned six decades.  She accomplished the feat by taking such parts beginning in the 1960s.  Now hold up.  I’m not saying this is anywhere even close to the high camp art of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? or even The NannyUnhinged is absolutely ridiculous, but wickedly unwarranted acts pervade the film and if if you have the right mindset, it can be entertaining.

Rachel Hunter (Caren Pistorius) is a divorced, single mother living in New Orleans.  One day while driving her 15-year-old son (Gabriel Bateman) to school she finds herself stuck behind a pickup truck.  It fails to move after the light has turned green.  She waits then honks the horn.  Not a “courtesy tap” mind you, but a full-on loud and steady beep.  Uh-oh.  Big mistake.  Soon after, the driver of the truck, Tom Cooper (Russell Crowe) pulls up alongside her and demands an apology.  She refuses and a road rage influenced game of cat-and-mouse ensues.

Revenge of the angry-white-male is a role perfectly tailored to Russell Crowe.  He relishes the deranged misanthrope with unbridled gusto.  Each cell conversation he places to Rachel leads to more misery.  This occurs over and over again.  These calls are a development that knowingly winks at the audience.  Director Derrick Borte (American Dreamer) exploits the genuine temperament of the star.  The notoriously short-tempered actor was famously charged with assault for throwing a phone at a hotel employee back in 2005.  Here he figuratively wields a mobile device as if it were a weapon.  Sometimes, art imitates life.

Unhinged isn’t an intelligent movie.  Tom is most certainly the villain and Rachel is the innocent victim.  However, she makes a lot of bad decisions.  Many times throughout I asked myself, why doesn’t Rachel just___________? (Fill in the blank with something a sensible person would do).  There are so many things that could’ve put an end to the unbelievable sequence of events.  Simply not answering one of Tom’s sadistic phone calls would have been a good start.  Her initial choice to press that button on the steering wheel is key.  Screenwriter Carl Ellsworth seems to warn viewers about the dangers of angering another driver.  Whenever this veered toward a cautionary tale, the more absurd the chronicle seemed.  There’s a pivotal moment where the narrative is no longer framed as a saga about a psycho on the loose, but as a plea to limit the use of your car horn.  Those are the kinds of preposterous asides that had me amused.  You can’t take this story seriously.  Nevertheless, it’s very intense and compelling.  As a vehicle (get it?) to set your heart rate racing, it’s pretty effective.

08-18-20

5 Responses to “Unhinged”

  1. Rachel's Reviews Says:

    To me it wasn’t B movie enough. It took itself too seriously and was trying to have a message and that wasn’t amusing to me. I wonder if Crowe is trying to go the Liam Neeson action route with his career? I feel like movies like Taken and The Gray are way more fun than this so better luck next time for him

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    • I guess it relies on the viewer’s frame of mind. The story seemed pretty tongue in cheek to me. His behavior was so over the top, I couldn’t take him seriously. I had fun with it, although this is by no means a great movie.

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      • Rachel's Reviews Says:

        Yeah I guess it just depends how much that intro and other messaging turns you off. For me it kept it from being the dumb fun other sections implied. I wish it had leaned into that camp more and not tried to be some kind of cautionary tale

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  2. How was the theater when you saw this? I don’t think theaters in northern jersey are open yet. I know AMC plans to open early September

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