Distributors: Altitude Film Distribution
Production Companies: Ingenious Media & Burek Films
Director: Derrick Borte
Producers: Lisa Ellzey, Anthony Hines & Mark Gill
Scriptwriter: Carl Ellsworth
Main Cast: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius & Gabriel Bateman
Released: August 21 2020
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Duel (1971) meets The Room (2003), as Unhinged sees Russell Crowe in a gas-guzzling romp that is enjoyable for all the wrong reasons. Now, 2020 has been a desolate year for movies. For much of the year, the cinemas have been closed and, for most of us, the only chance to see a new film would have been through streaming services such as Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime. However, the summer months brought along the long-awaited, albeit rather bittersweet, return of the cinema, and one of the first films to be shown was no other than Unhinged. Now, Unhinged was the first film I’ve seen in the cinema since February, and I can safely say that it was certainly worth the wait. Though, my enjoyment of it was rather at its own expense.
Unhinged follows newly-divorced mother, Rachel Flynn (Caren Pistorius), who unwittingly antagonises the mentally ‘unhinged’ Tom Cooper (Russell Crowe) whilst driving her only child (Gabriel Bateman) to school. What ensues afterwards is a typical long game of motorised cat and mouse in which Crowe’s character teaches Rachel “what a bad day is.” This leaves behind a massive trail of carnage which tears Rachel’s world apart. After a series of mind games and traps in which Cooper seems to be always one step ahead of them, Rachel and her son manage to turn the tide and are able stop him before any more damage is made.
A point which the film will constantly try to drill into your skull at every turn is that this is a film about road rage. From the opening credits that feature many clips of car collisions and the many news reports that play on televisions in the background, which hilariously report rises in “road rage”, the film has completely no sense of subtlety. This is shown in the very first scene of the film where we literally see Russell Crowe’s character take off his wedding ring and cast it aside.
The best example of this bluntness is certainly in the character of Tom Cooper, played by Russell Crowe, who is strangely both perfectly cast for the role and also miscast at the same time. The film tries to use this character to show the dangers of toxic masculinity in today’s society, but instead the portrayal is so outlandish and over the top that you can’t help but giggle as he describes to Rachel the meaning of a “courtesy tap”. The madness of the idea of a character going on a murderous rampage because a lady honked their horn at them a little too aggressively is one which is so surreal that you would think they’d have a level of self-awareness, but the genius of Unhinged is that it plays all of this completely straight.
The film features so many moments of madness which have strong comedic potential, but the fact that it’s taken with utter sincerity makes for an entertaining watch. Scenes like when Crowe’s character sets fire to a tied-up hostage and pushes them into a police officer to evade arrest, or when a child’s Fortnite strategy is reincorporated as an attempt to defeat him are so daft and misguided that you question if the film wasn’t initially written as a satire that went completely over the director’s head.
The laziness of the script is so apparent it surely has to be parody. The fact that the film goes out of the way to justify why Rachel doesn’t have a passcode for her phone so that Cooper can later access it, but doesn’t bother to explain at all how bulky Tom Cooper is able to quickly sneak into her car and steal it while she goes out to pay for fuel, tells you everything you need to know about the script’s attitude to plot points. The dialogue at points can be so stilted and bizarre that they are rather quotable; ever since I saw the film, I’ve wanted “he’s road raging” on a T-shirt.
Overall, Unhinged is another fine addition to the category of “so bad it’s good” filmmaking. Although on a surface level it’s not as noticeably terrible as films like Sharknado, The Room or Birdemic, its far-fetched concept, unoriginal execution, quotable dialogue and hilarious plot points create an experience which will leave you gasping for air in laughter.
Target Audience: Ages 15+
Content: Strong Language, Threat & Bloody Violence
Overall Rating: 2/10 – Very Bad
For more information about Unhinged, click here.