August 17th, 2020
STARRING: RUSSELL CROWE; CAREN PISTORIUS; GABRIEL BATEMAN;
DIRECTED BY: DERRICK BORTE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The question that audiences will need to ask themselves, starting this week, with every movie playing at the theater is, “Will this movie be worth the risk of getting Covid-19?” You will be hard pressed to find the answer being a resounding, yes. Unhinged has been blessed with being the movie that jumps into the fire first; A sacrificial cinematic lamb. And even though the craziness of this all fits because Unhinged is an absolutely bonkers movie, it does not make it any more comforting to put viewers at risk. But here we are and Unhinged is arriving in theaters this weekend. Russell Crowe stars as an extremely pissed off person, who decides to take his rage out on another driver and her son. Unhinged is incredibly entertaining, in a “wow, look at that flaming wreckage” sort of way, but it’s not the kind of movie you risk your health or even your life to go see.
The narrative begins with Rachel (Caren Pistorious), a single mother, living at home with her brother Fred (Austin P. McKenzie) and his fiance. She oversleeps, is going through a brutal divorce, and her son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman) is going to get a detention because they’re late for school. On top of it all, she is fired from her job along the way, so you could understand why she leans on her horn when the driver in front of her dosen’t go through a green light. Honking at that guy- listed in the credits as The Man (Russell Crowe)- is the wrong guy to mess with. He’s a man on the edge, sweating, twitching, and hell bent on showing Rachel what a bad day really looks like.
That’s just how everything started in Unhinged. The massive appeal that follows is watching Russell Crowe put on a show of rage and anger. Director Derrick Borte has made a mixture of Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down meets Halle Berry’s Kidnap, and for some members of the audience that will be enough. The script by Carl Ellsworth is thin in saying anything important- specifically about toxic male rage- and is instead filled with car chases and violent outbursts. That mostly worked for me because of Crowe. His performance is wild, where the oscar winner seems to be playing a combination of Orson Welles and Steve Bannon on a cocaine bender. The appeal of Unhinged for me was where it dares to go. The entire plot becomes preposterous quickly and it’s the kind of movie you give credit for the attempt.
All of the positives would outweigh the negatives, if Unhinged was a direct to Netflix release, or an easy buy OnDemand. Instead, there’s more riding on it and it’s not nearly enough to praise. Along with that, there are various problems with how Unhinged fails to have an understanding for those who suffer with mental health problems or the rising rate of American’s with anger issues. If Unhinged proves anything, it is that American’s see so much anger on a daily basis, a movie such as this might not be too far fetched.
The final result is a recommendation from me, only because Unhinged is always in motion, and it even reminded me of violent 70’s exploitation films, such as Death Wish or Steven Spielberg’s truck on a rampage picture- Duel. If not for the action, you at least see a lumbering, powerhouse performance by Russell Crowe. It’s impressive to see the Gladiator star back with a role for him to chew on. His work here is often scary, even terrifying. Maybe you will have a sense of two kinds of dread when walking out of the theater? Wondering exactly, “Will I catch Covid-19? And hopefully I didn’t honk my horn at the wrong person.” Either way, it’s better to see Unhinged at home. It’s safer that way.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady