‘Unhinged’ movie review: Pulpy road rage thriller that borders on the nonsensical

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Russell Crowe has lots of fun growling, sneering and bashing heads in as an unstable man on the road

Road rage — don’t we all know it? Especially if you are stuck forever in Bengaluru’s Silk Board junction or anywhere else pre-pandemic. Post lockdown, one wonders if road rage has translated into some other kind of rage as we see people have meltdowns over wearing masks or not wearing them, for paying a fine or not. Well, all that is beside the point in this serviceable, pulpy thriller from Derrick Borte.

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Russell Crowe has lots of fun growling, sneering and bashing heads in as the unstable Man on the road. We are introduced to Crowe’s character as he visits his ex-wife’s house with a hammer and a can of gasoline. No prizes for guessing how that ends up for ex-wife and her lover.

Unhinged

  • Director: Derrick Borte
  • Cast: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Austin P. McKenzie, Juliene Joyner, Gabriel Bateman
  • Story line: A road rage incident spirals out of control
  • Run time: 93 minutes

We then cut to Rachel (Caren Pistorius) who is in the midst of a divorce. Rachel’s brother, Fred (Austin P. McKenzie), and his girlfriend, Mary (Juliene Joyner), stay with her. Swamped from problems from every side, Rachel is already running late as she rushes to drop her 15-year-old son, Kyle, (Gabriel Bateman) to school.

An altercation with the Man (he says his name is Tom Cooper, but is it?) on the road seems to put a lid on how bad Rachel’s day can get. Not bad enough, according to the Man who stalks Rachel, meeting her best friend and lawyer Andy (Jimmi Simpson) and generally doing all sorts of evil things. Even at 93 minutes, with much intense driving and set expressions, Unhinged always seems one step away from devolving into ridiculousness. Also why are the police not called earlier?

The Duel (1971), Steven Spielberg’s directorial debut, where a mostly unseen truck driver terrorises a business commuter was a much more effective study in terror as was 2001’s Joy Ride. Joel Schumacher’s Phone Booth (2002) worked better as a lesson in politeness and good manners.

After seeing Crowe gnash his teeth as Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in The Mummy, it is a pleasant distraction to see him lumbering around bashing skulls in. Pistorius matches him step for step with candy cane scissors and other cruel implements. If all else fails, there is always Keep Shelly in Athen’s version of Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ to jolly one along.

Unhinged is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video



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