Another weekend is on the horizon, and more COVID-related restrictions are currently in place. Depending on which part of the world you live in, you may or may not be able to go to a cinema – and that is only if you feel comfortable doing so.
I live in Manchester in the UK, and this means we are just about to enter a new set of restrictions which mean I am unlikely to enter a cinema now for at least another three months. Whether I want to or not (and I do – I really want to see Wonder Woman 84 on the big screen), cinemas in my neck of the woods have been closed indefinitely and this means it is streaming/home cinema only for the foreseeable future.
Thank goodness for home video then, which currently serves up Unhinged – a revenge thriller starring Russell Crowe. Directed by Derrick Borte, Unhinged tells the story of a young mother who is terrorised by a disturbed man, following a road rage incident on the freeway.
In the movie, the mother – played by Caren Pistorius – crosses paths with a psychopathic Russell Crowe, while she is driving her son to school. A brief altercation takes place between Pistorius and Crowe, and this kick-starts an escalating chain of events with grave consequences.
If this all sounds a little familiar it is because Unhinged was released theatrically during the summer, so you may recall seeing the trailer for this picture. The film was touted as the first big release post-Lockdown I, and it was hoped it would entice audiences back into cinemas.
Unhinged wasn’t the huge draw the industry hoped for – nor was it ever going to be – but it did help ease audiences back in. Now that it is available to rent and buy on home video, it is hoped the film will be given a second wind and I believe this is most likely.
From the trailer for Unhinged I expected the film to be a re-tread of Falling Down (1993), mixed with a dash of Duel (1971), a hint of Changing Lanes (2002) and sniff of Lakeview Terrace (2008). Essentially this is what the film is – it isn’t anything particularly original, and is largely comprised of ideas that have cropped up in other thrillers – but if you liked any of the aforementioned titles, then you should like what is on offer here.
Despite its shortcomings, Unhinged is surprisingly good. What the movie lacks in innovation, it makes up for in entertainment, with a decent level of suspense, a few shocks, and a very strong performance from Russell Crowe.
The actor is an imposing figure in this movie, both mentally and physically, and becomes the dark force in the story that refuses to relent. Like the shark in Jaws (1975) or Michael Myers in Halloween (1978), Crowe’s character has no intention of backing down from his abusive stance, and this results in an interesting figure who barges his way through each scene, never letting anyone get in his way.
Had Crowe not been cast in this picture, or had he fumbled this role, then the film may not have worked in the way it did. But thanks to Crowe, Unhinged is held together rather well, with his character become the strongest aspect of the story.
What also works in Unhinged’s favour is its very svelte running time, which clocks in at just over 90 minutes. Due to its tight timeframe, the movie is able to maintain a high level of momentum throughout, and at no point does it run out of steam.
This isn’t a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, there are a couple of moments which do defy logic, and the police presence in this picture is bafflingly ineffective. For a thriller about a person who is clearly a danger to the public, I did expect a little more escalation from the boys and girls in blue, who largely seem useless in the story.
But this is a minor issue for me, because I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Unhinged. It isn’t an award-winning picture, it doesn’t do things that I haven’t seen countless times before, but it did manage to hold my attention for an hour-and-a-half and sometimes that’s all I require of a movie.
If you’re staring down the barrel of yet more restrictions on your day-to-day life, and you could simply do with some decent entertainment, then you could do far worse than to check out Unhinged. For me, it is a fine Saturday night movie that can be enjoyed with a takeaway and a couple of beers.