Derrick Borte's Unhinged hits like a Mack truck with its foot hard on the gas, fueled by a Russell Crowe performance that's disturbing and full of inner-rage. This might not feel like the most appropriate movie to release theatrically right now, but the film will definitely shock you and keep your eyes glued to the screen.
Derrick Borte‘s Unhinged marks the first wide theatrical release movie since before COVID-19 plagued the world and what better way to invigorate the audiences then with a mean-spirited slice of rage cinema, featuring a bloated and pissed off Russell Crowe? Unhinged might not be the most deserving film to demand to be seen on the big screen, but it surely is an adrenaline-fueled rollercoaster that you will struggle to take your eyes off of.
Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is having a not-so-great day. She overslept and got stuck in traffic, essentially letting down her son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman) yet again in what is appearing to be yet another lousy day. But that all instantly becomes 100 times worse as she honks her horn at a man (Russell Crowe) who appears to be zoning out at a green light.
This innocent honk quickly escalates into the biggest mistake of her life as she unknowingly just tipped the scales for a guy that is having the worst day of his life and has decided that violence may be the only answer.
Soon, Rachel realizes that she pissed off the wrong guy and that road rage is just the beginning of this wild and unpredictable day from hell.
Derrick Borte‘s Unhinged is perhaps one of the most relatable movies, only cranked up to 1000. Scripted by Carl Ellsworth, Unhinged is the result of unfiltered road rage through the perspective of a guy that’s absolutely had it with society and the people that live in it.
Unhinged starts on a somewhat morbid note, capturing The Man’s bloody spree from the get-go and then shifting gears towards Rachel and the scene that brings the two together. Rachel doesn’t know that this man just murdered two people in cold blood, yet she quickly finds out as he demands an apology for her acting so rudely towards him on the road.
What makes this movie completely bone-chilling is how rooted in is in the real world that we live in. This movie might sound like an exaggeration of such events, but unfortunately this is becoming our harsh reality as we continue to read news stories filled with violence and irrational behavior.
It doesn’t help that the media glorifies such events, which increases the normal reactions and even unintentionally glorifies the murders and psychopaths.
This makes Unhinged awfully frightening, yet still a trashy, albeit well-shot piece of cinema escapism that you hate to admit a slight relation to. Would we as a civilized society ever snap in this manner? I sure hope not. But have we all had a bad day and just wondered why someone would react so harshly to something as innocent as zoning out at a green light? You betcha.
Director Derrick Borte shoots Unhinged from the perspective of both The Man and Rachel and I feel that this is smart, because it doesn’t throw you onto one side or another. I would hope that most of your sympathy is given to Rachel, but it does help complete the film giving you The Man’s side of the story as well, otherwise the film would feel lopsided and excessive.
Carl Ellsworth‘s script doesn’t really flesh out any characters aside from our two stars and that’s fine, because Russell Crowe and Caren Pistorius keep you glued to the screen.
Crowe especially sinks his teeth into such a filthy role, from the top to the bottom. He looks absolutely pissed and full of rage and anger and yet his words are measured and occasionally even calm. It’s great watching an actor with such range and experience dive into the depths of hell to come out with a performance that’s so evil, yet enjoyable to watch on-screen.
I must praise Crowe for going all-in and I think that a lesser star would’ve turned this one into a straight-to-DVD mess, yet Crowe manages to strike a balance and draw up some interest.
Caren Pistorius must also be celebrated for her willingness to hang with the likes of Crowe with such ease. Rachel is yet again, another relatable over-worked mom trying to do her best, which never seems to be enough. We’ve all had those moments of unnecessary rudeness that we probably immediately regretted or didn’t even realize the harshness of it. And she navigates those unflattering waters with authenticity and a balance of stubbornness and sympathy. It’s kind of hard for her character to forgive The Man after he starts killing people, but I would think that if he didn’t startle her on the road that she might’ve seen that her ways were ruder than they needed to be.
Or maybe not? Maybe Unhinged does fully embrace the character of The Man, commenting on society’s inability to show empathy and how quickly we judge and place blame and fail to take responsibility. I would hope that we can learn to see the good in people and that we can learn to forgive and move forward, but perhaps Ellsworth’s script just wants us to accept the bad and the messy and to just let it run wild?
Ultimately, I think that is for you as an audience member to decide. I thought the film played things closely down the middle, allowing you to feel for both characters, but to (hopefully) realize that The Man has gone too far and that this film works so well because it gives you that heightened feeling of escape, but anything past that might be encouragement for you to make a visit to a therapist.
Unhinged is a mean-spirited R-rated thriller that doesn’t believe in filters. Russell Crowe gives a jaw-dropping performance that’s fueled by hate and rage. I wouldn’t call this the must-see movie on the big screen, but it definitely benefits from the larger screen and louder sound. It’s kind of a “feel bad” movie that isn’t going to have you walking out with a smile on your face, so keep that in mind as you decide if the film is worth hunting down in theaters or waiting for home video.
Naturally, I would say go and support your local cinemas. If you feel safe, then get out, relax in the comfort of a nicely AC’d theater as you drift back into that feeling of normalcy that we’ve kind of forgotten ever since COVID-19 took the world by storm. Unhinged is a worthwhile thriller ripe for the silver screen.