“We all go a little mad sometimes.” -Norman Bates (Psycho)
Sometimes I think it’s important to let off some steam. In fact I’d argue it’s an imperative part of normal life. If we didn’t ever scream into a pillow or vent to an understanding friend we might go off the metaphorical deep end. We might pull a “Falling Down” or a “Christmas Vacation” if we always kept our little anger monkeys locked in a cage. Sometimes though I think life can take the phrase “when it rains it pours” a bit too far and dumps an ocean of hateful bullshit atop of our poor, unsuspecting heads. And then one day you’re on your way home, stuck in heavy traffic and some asshat cuts you off and from that moment you see red. In your mind you imagine running them off the road and beating them senseless with a tire iron but as law abiding citizens we don’t ever do this. Of course there’s always the exceptions to the rule and in these rare cases (not rare enough) you get someone truly, Unhinged.
I like to think I’m a pretty patient person. I might mutter things under my breath but it’s a rarity that I ever unload my anger on a complete stranger. We all have our bad days though. In this straight to the point thriller, Russell Crowe makes it his final goal in life to teach a lesson to a woman he deems rude and inconsiderate of those around her. You realize quickly that the ominously named The Man (Crowe) is anything but mentally stable and something as innocuous as a car horn shouldn’t send someone into a monstrous, murderous rage.
I think the greatest strength of this simple story is the idea of the villain being an every man, an unremarkable person you wouldn’t glance twice at being the one to fear. He is, as he explains, having a bad day and wants an apology from this random woman he’s never met after she honked at him in a… rude tone? His last straw isn’t something you’d qualify as justifiable but as I said, we all have bad days and sometimes something so small, so insignificant like a car horn is enough to guarantee the rest of your day isn’t likely to improve. The difference is the whole murder thing and The Man never got that memo apparently.
I enjoyed this movie for the simple fact that it never tries to be anything it isn’t. It is, as simple a premise there is, about a man with extraordinary road rage and a severe inability to let things go. It is insanity v sanity in a fight dome where the innocent has no place. As things escalate, and they do so quite fast, Rachel, the woman in his crosshairs, realizes that in order to end this literal nightmare she must go to lengths she never thought resided within herself. But as she faces a reality where everything and everyone she knows is destroyed by this stranger she learns to fight back in the most dirty fashion she can muster.
Unhinged contains many moments that make your eyes involuntarily roll to the back of your head but they are few and far enough between to avoid any kind of cinematic derailment. The police never get there in time, he’s always one step ahead of everyone, and of course the moments when the characters do things no one in their right mind would ever actually attempt. In some weird way though I think those moments add something fun to the whole thing, a sort of unintended reminder that as intense as it all is, as horribly violent as it all becomes, it’s never meant to be taken too seriously. It’s supposed to shock and scare but it’s also intended as a good bit of delirious entertainment.
Ninety minutes of road rage issues featuring a terrifyingly larger-than-life Russell Crowe feels appropriate right now. I think we’re all a bit high strung at the moment with all that this shit show of a year has provided for our entertainment, even when we begged for it to stop, it has kept on giving; it’s the worst Christmas ever only this “holiday” is lasting a full 365 days. Yay… (kill me) We can live vicariously through Crowe’s berserk performance while remaining good citizens (who wear a fucking mask, do it anyway asshole) who don’t murder. It’s as if the film itself is a relief valve, a sort of cinematic punching bag or a celluloid filled pillow meant to relieve some of the stress we’re all certainly carrying at this particular time. And if this movie can provide us anything, for those of us that have missed the movie theater dearly, and I have, I do, Unhinged isn’t the masterpiece to save cinema as we know it but it will absolutely do for now. It’s an uncomplicated thriller you can enjoy with a bucket of that elusive movie theater popcorn in the dark, six feet away from everyone else (minimum) as you thank the movie gods for opening the theaters again. Finally!
Rated R For: strong violent content, and language throughout
Runtime: 90 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Starring: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson
Directed By: Derrick Borte
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 3.5
OVERALL: 3.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
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