Review: Unhinged (2020)


Director: Derrick Borte | 90 minutes | thriller | Actors: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, Michael Papajohn, Austin P. McKenzie, Lucy Faust, Sylvia Grace Crim, Anne Leighton, Samantha Beaulieu, Devyn A. Tyler

Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is having a hard time. She just got divorced, has too little money and worries too much. Her son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman) has to be taken to school and she has overslept. To make matters worse, she ends up in a traffic jam. At a traffic light, the gray pickup truck in front of her isn’t moving fast enough, so she presses the horn. In vain. She overtakes the car and does not respond to his apologetic hand gesture. Not much later the car turns up next to her in a traffic jam. The driver (Russell Crowe) reprimands her and Rachel ends up in an altercation. Not something stressed out Rachel is waiting for. During the car trip, she also lost a most important client, so the problems are piling up.

‘Unhinged’ is more exciting than you would expect based on the premise. The film already begins with an extreme act of revenge from the man who was affected in his honor. There is therefore no question of surprise what this man is capable of. However, the way he defies Rachel is more inventive than expected, aided by the small mistakes the nervous woman makes. The man immediately puts his cards on the table at the start of the game, or shortly afterwards, so that you know what his goal is. The tension comes mainly from the fact that he changes the rules of the already unfair game according to Rachel’s moves. The chases are very well done, even when driving slowly through a residential area the tension drips from the screen.

Russell Crowe has never been so one-dimensional and yet he steals every scene he is in. Those few fragments at the beginning of the film that show what drives him to the act of desperation are enough. Caren Pistorius is lucky that her character has been worked out a bit more in the screenplay, but of course the viewer’s sympathy lies exclusively with her and her clever teenage son. It is a fact that the scenario occasionally stretches credibility. You can choose to take that for granted or be annoyed by it, but the actors make it easy to go for the former. ‘Unhinged’ is an exciting thriller about a situation you don’t wish on anyone. Not even that jerk who cut you off on the highway, the annoying tailgater on that B-road or the motorist leaving the roundabout without a direction.

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