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The license plates in the unnamed state where the thriller “Unhinged” takes place read: “America’s Heartland.” The suggestion is that the horrors that occur over the course of one inordinately eventful day—and the ire that prompts them in the first place—could happen anywhere, even in a seemingly wholesome, secure part of the country. (For the record, “Unhinged” was shot in Louisiana, land of the film production tax breaks.)

That much is clear from the montage of misery accompanying the opening titles in director Derrick Borte ’s down-and-dirty picture. We see images of traffic jams, car crashes, rioting and random violence matched with talk radio reports of job losses, general despair and—this is crucial because it lays the groundwork for the mayhem to follow—woefully underfunded and understaffed police forces. “You gotta protect yourself these days,” says a random, worried voice. “We are going backwards,” echoes another.

But the script from writer Carl Ellsworth (“Disturbia,” “ The Last House on the Left ”) seeks to exploit the malaise blanketing the nation for cheap and gory B-movie jolts. Rather than explore legitimate feelings of disenfranchisement throughout the United States (which, arguably, led to our current presidential administration), “Unhinged” wallows in such fears and frustrations in tawdry fashion. You’re right to be mistrustful of your neighbors, it seems to say. After all, this is a world where a minor conflict at a traffic light can lead to an all-day road-rage chase with multiple bloody bodies in its wake.

Russell Crowe is the chaos agent driving this paranoid pursuit, literally and figuratively. Known only as The Man—because he could be any of us, get it?—Crowe is mind-bogglingly overqualified to play this thinly drawn character. So much so, that it makes you wonder why he would say yes. But the few pleasures “Unhinged” offers come from the highs and lows he manages to maneuver. The Man is either rampaging with all his bearded, burly might, which is unintentionally amusing, or he’s toying with his prey in a menacing rumble, which is sporadically effective. Like a malevolent Foghorn Leghorn in an oversized pickup truck, Crowe’s character is subtly menacing at first but eventually reveals himself to be impossibly indestructible.

The target of his fury is a harried hairdresser named Rachel ( Caren Pistorius ), a single mom who’s already having a rough morning by the time she clashes with The Man. Running late as usual, she’s dashing out the door to drive her tween son Kyle ( Gabriel Bateman ) to school but finds herself trapped in traffic no matter where she turns. Between squabbling with her ex and losing her best client, she’s in an understandably foul mood when she gets stuck behind The Man, and perhaps lays on the horn of her beat-up Volvo station wagon a bit too heavily when he refuses to go on a green light.

But she doesn’t know what we know about The Man from the film’s fiery prologue: He’s having a worse morning than she is, and he’s dangerous.

The bulk of “Unhinged” finds The Man stalking and terrorizing Rachel and everyone dear to her, including her best friend/divorce lawyer ( Jimmi Simpson ) in one particularly tense scene at a coffee shop. But despite moments like that, which Borte executes effectively, we’re mostly left with the icky feeling that we’re expected to sympathize with this guy for snapping. He’s been dealt a bad hand. Who could blame him, right? The Man is unleashing his anger in an extreme manner, but fundamentally he’s not wrong, “Unhinged” appears to believe. This becomes an increasingly untenable position, though, as Crowe’s character grows more brazen and the death count rises. The way he physically brutalizes Rachel and her young son is especially gratuitous, although it does result in a shocking act of violence that might best be described as Chekhov’s haircutting scissors. Pistorius does solid work throughout in expressing various states of panic, but she’s mainly reacting to Crowe’s improbable omnipresence.

“Unhinged” bills itself as the movie that’s finally reopening theaters this weekend, depending on where you live, following the Covid-19 shutdown more than five months ago. The distributor behind it initially intended to do so back on July 1, which clearly was optimistic. Maybe the film's frantic chases and crashes leading up to a wild climax are a lot more fun with other people in an audience, hooting and hollering with muffled excitement beneath their masks. But I doubt it.

Christy Lemire

Christy Lemire

Christy Lemire is a longtime film critic who has written for since 2013. Before that, she was the film critic for The Associated Press for nearly 15 years and co-hosted the public television series "Ebert Presents At the Movies" opposite Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, with Roger Ebert serving as managing editor. Read her answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire here .

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Film credits.

Unhinged movie poster

Unhinged (2020)

Rated R for strong violent content, and language throughout.

Russell Crowe as The Man

Gabriel Bateman as Kyle

Caren Pistorius as Rachel


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Unhinged Reviews

review of movie unhinged

Road rage gets a new and definitive definition.

Full Review | Dec 26, 2022

review of movie unhinged

Screenwriter Carl Ellsworth and director Derrick Borte leave you gasping in a brutal thriller with a cynical view of the rage festering in all of us.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Dec 23, 2022

review of movie unhinged

Stay for Crowe, who gives a performance in Unhinged that’s like a deranged rhino, or leave for the anemic plot that stands for nothing.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Sep 2, 2022

review of movie unhinged

Unhinged's story may seem simple and straightforward, but this raucous road rage thriller still terrifies thanks to Russell Crowe's chilling commitment in the lead role.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Sep 1, 2022

review of movie unhinged

“Unhinged” is a simple yet satisfying thriller that by the end turns into full-on maniacal horror.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Aug 21, 2022

review of movie unhinged

Mostly awful, but it somehow peaks into something sublimely awful by the third act.

Full Review | Original Score: C- | Aug 10, 2021

review of movie unhinged

Russell Crowe action flick has no deep meaning, it's just tense, fast entertainment that doesn't outstay its welcome for a lean 93 minutes.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Jun 18, 2021

review of movie unhinged

Whoa, this was a lot more and intense than I had expected it to be. This is definitely one of Russell Crowe's most nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing performances

Full Review | Original Score: 8.9/10 | May 26, 2021

review of movie unhinged

As a study of an emasculated man seeking revenge it brings to mind Falling Down, Michael Douglas' 1993 black comedy, except Unhinged is all darkness and no comedy.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Jan 29, 2021

review of movie unhinged

If there's an underlying message other than 'don't be rude to other drivers because they might be having a worse day than you,' I missed it.

Full Review | Jan 27, 2021

review of movie unhinged

An honest and straightforward entertainment, as violent as viciously fun.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Jan 12, 2021

review of movie unhinged

It's just a shame the end product feels so middle of the road, something fun to watch in the moment but ultimately forgettable

Full Review | Jan 5, 2021

review of movie unhinged

The film's gaze skillfully mixes contextual projection... and knows how to avoid demagoguery no matter how well it embraces the spectacle. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Jan 4, 2021

review of movie unhinged

A quick, fun little nail-biter.

Full Review | Original Score: 6/10 | Dec 12, 2020

review of movie unhinged

As long as it doesn't even pretend to have thoughts in its ugly little head, it's reasonably okay at being disreputable... Unfortunately, it tries to think rather too often.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Nov 27, 2020

review of movie unhinged

A vile, nasty piece of work, this paranoid thriller gives vent to the frustration so much of us are feeling in an exploitive manner that is borderline offensive.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.0/4.0 | Nov 27, 2020

No one shows anger boiling in the stomach quite like Crowe, who finds a way to kick-start this material - vicious trash, at a glance - by touring us around a mindset that's impressively credible in the circumstances.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Nov 22, 2020

review of movie unhinged

A slasher movie on wheels. It ain't for the squeamish.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Nov 21, 2020

This trashy anxiety-fest completely delivers upon what little it promises.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Nov 17, 2020

The bones of an enjoyable thriller are here. But there's no meat on them.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/10 | Nov 13, 2020

review of movie unhinged

Unhinged (I) (2020)

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review of movie unhinged

‘Unhinged’: Russell Crowe Has Road Rage — Are You Not Entertained? (No)

By Peter Travers

Peter Travers

Known as the Russell Crowe road-rage movie, Unhinged hits theaters — or at least the ones that dare to open stateside — on August 21st. Is it worth going masked and still risk infection to sit in a poorly ventilated multiplex, no matter how socially distanced, to see Crowe play demolition derby in daytime traffic? It’s your call. Even marking on a B-movie curve, Unhinged is running on empty.

All due respect to the Gladiator Oscar winner, who tries mightily to bring something relatably human to his role as a killing machine in a pickup truck. Are we not entertained? For a few minutes, maybe. In a terrifying opening scene, “the Man,” as Crowe’s character is pretentiously billed, sits in his car lighting matches and removing his wedding ring. Then he enters a house with an axe, chopping away at his ex and her new love, and burns down the place he once called home. The movie eventually reveals that the Man, who lives in “the City” (it’s unnamed, but mostly New Orleans) has been fired just before his pension kicked in, deserted by his cheating wife and treated as invisible by impolite society.

Cut to the home of Rachel (Caren Pistorius), a single mom who’s also living in a pressure cooker. A freelance hair stylist dumped by a client for tardiness, Rachel is dealing with a contentious divorce, a mother in a nursing home, a brother and his girlfriend who are sponging off her,  and a son, Kyle (Gabriel Bateman), who worries that his mom will be late getting him to school. It’s on that drive that Rachel swerves around a truck that’s not moving at a green light. The driver is — you guessed it — the Man. He quickly pulls up beside Rachel asking for an apology she’s unwilling to give. In hiss mind, Rachel’s bad day is no excuse for not giving him at least a courtesy tap on her horn. Even Kyle agrees. Still no apology. “I don’t think you know what a bad day is,” says the Man. “But you’re gonna fucking learn.”

Up to this point, Unhinged gives off an enjoyably trashy vibe that suggests a real-time ride into hell. It also steals shamelessly from better, similarly-themed films, such as Duel, Falling Down and Changing Lanes. Director Derrick Borte ( American Dreamer ) escalates the tension, especially when the Man steals Rachel’s smartphone and goes through her messages and contact lists (she doesn’t use a password), threatening her friends and family. There’s a scene in which he keeps Rachel’s coffee date at a diner with Andy (Jimmi  Simpson), a lawyer friend who the Man resents for screwing guys like him over in divorce suits. The graphic violence inflicted on Andy is just a taste of the horror to come.

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It’s here that the script by Carl Ellsworth ( Disturbia, The Last House on the Left remake) hits a pileup of improbabilities from which it never recovers. Though Pistorius is a solid actress, the script forces her into making so many boneheaded moves that that you want to scream at her in frustration. It’s quickly apparent that logic has no place here. The vehicular mayhem is sharply co-edited by Mike McKusker, who won an Oscar for Ford v Ferrari. But the plot goes nowhere at top speed, courtesy of carnage so repetitive that its makes 90 minutes seem like an eternity. Cars swerve, jacknife  and crash, showing license plates that read: “America’s Heartland.”

Get it? Right from the doc-style prologue, the filmmakers vainly and desperately labor to attach Unhinged to the explosive anger (insert closeup of Crowe fuming) currently demolishing civil discourse in our unraveling world. For that, you need characters who are more than cardboard, a script that is more than an outline, and a director who is more than a traffic cop. Failing on all three levels, the film should be stamped: License revoked.

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review of movie unhinged


‘Unhinged’ Review: Russell Crowe Will Not Save Cinema with This Pointless Thriller

Crowe goes into overdrive for the first new movie released in theaters in months, but it's not enough to save this cheap thriller..

review of movie unhinged

Kaleem Aftab

Jul 30, 2020 7:00 pm

review of movie unhinged


Skip Bolden

Russell Crowe is going to save cinema! So goes the marketing push for road-rage thriller “ Unhinged ,” the first new film to open in theaters since lockdown. Yet it’s worth acknowledging that Crowe hasn’t exactly saved cinema in the past decade, where “Les Misérables,” “The Water Diviner” and “The Nice Guys” are the only moderate highlights. To buy into the hype around “Unhinged,” one has to accept the cult of Crowe and pretend that he’s still a relevant movie star, to pretend it’s no later than 2003’s “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” and Crowe remains a gladiator of cinema.

But even that mind game can’t rescue the lazy B-movie routine of this cheap entertainment from director Derrick Borte, which could be generously described as an homage to Joel Schumacher’s “Falling Down” by way of Steven Spielberg’s “Duel.”

“Unhinged” is the story of a man — conveniently credited as The Man, although at one point he claims to be called Tom Cooper — who’s clearly upset, as a pre-credit sequence makes clear, about his recent divorce. Eventually, he decides to take that frustration out on a hapless victim, and yes, that’s the whole movie.

It starts simply enough: The Man is sitting in his stationary car, the rain lashing down, the windshield wipers squishing back and forth. He tears off his wedding ring and lights a match. The proverbial fuse has been lit — but “Unhinged” doesn’t waste time on its blunt metaphors. In a brutal long take, the Man exits his car and takes out his anger on a houseful of occupants with a hammer. It might be the most disturbing cinematic gesture since S. Craig Zahler’s “Brawl in Cell Block 99,” but that grisly movie looks downright subtle by comparison.

From there, “Unhinged” plays like a trailer for its own one-note premise, with footage of cars veering into each other and supermarket brawls to set the scene. People are angry! The credits go on and on, the rage bludgeoned into our senses, and described by radio hosts in vague terms. Somehow, this quasi-documentary scene-setting ends up as the highlight of the movie, because everything that follows is a misogynistic mess.

Yes, “Unhinged” relies upon the threat of violence against women for tension. If that wasn’t bad enough, the film also suggests that some women might just deserve it because they’re bad mothers who wake up late when they need to take their son to school, fail to keep on top of work, and are indignant when powerful men try to tell them how they should behave.

Enter Rachel (Caren Pistorius), who wakes up on the sofa next to her book: “How to Help Your Child Cope with Divorce.” Rounding off her backstory, her lawyer calls to let her know her ex-husband wants half of her house. As she takes her son to work, they wind up in a series of gnarly traffic jams before getting caught behind an SUV filmed to look like an evil monster truck. The traffic lights change; the SUV doesn’t budge. Rachel beeps her horn — and The Man pulls up alongside her car, deeply offended and ready to unleash more violence on a helpless target. Premise complete.

The rest of “Unhinged” unfolds as a vile series of inhumane violence committed by The Man against his newfound scapegoat — not to mention anyone supporting Rachel, her lawyer, her brother, and even a good Samaritan at a gas station. The hunt is facilitated by a ludicrous bit of exposition as to why she doesn’t use a password on her cell phone, as The Man decries how men get mistreated in divorce proceedings, and the movie seems oddly sympathetic to that plight — much more than the ostensible hero of the scenario, who mostly just looks frightened throughout.

For a film so reliant on the telephone, it’s probably not a surprise that Crowe dials in his performance. Dressed heavy-set, Crowe is all grimaces and frowns in disgust at everything around him. His only emotional note is all ANGRY, resulting in a parody of his own performances. It’s Crowe on overdrive, and it’s horrible.

Setting aside the hype, should we have expected more? “Unhinged” falls back on a reliable trope: Spielberg showed in “Duel” and Robert Harmon in “The Hitcher” that crazed drivers can deliver exhilaration in movies full of twists and turns. While “Unhinged” has a few solid jolts (explosions, mostly) and a couple of unexpected plot twists, it often plays like an empty attempt to up the ante: Who will The Man kill next? It’s hard to get onboard a movie that revels in such outrageous violence yet offers little insights beyond the redundant tantrums of a really bad guy.

Borte’s CV contains a list of movies you will be thankful not to have seen. The best of the bunch, his 2009 effort “The Joneses,” starred Demi Moore and David Duchovny as actors pretending to have a perfect marriage so they can sell high-end products to all the miserable couples living in suburbia. He then made several films that struggled to find an audience (anyone remember 2015’s “H8RZ”?). Borte’s 2018 “American Dreamer” is in many ways a dress rehearsal for “Unhinged,” telling the story of a respectful man who loses his job, and ultimately after a stint as a taxi driver, respect for himself. This time, it provides an excuse to repeat the same idea over and over again, grasping hopelessly for substance.

“Unhinged” is all the more infuriating because of the moment of its arrival, in a nearly empty release calendar that demands more movies to prove their worth. Many of us are desperate for the return of communal moviegoing experiences. But “Unhinged” plays less like an attempt to save the cinema than to burn it all down.

“Unhinged” opens Friday, July 31 in the UK and Friday, August 21 in the U.S.

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This Article is related to: Film , Reviews and tagged Reviews , Russell Crowe , Unhinged


Unhinged Review


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Common Sense says

Crowe's violent road rage thriller has mixed messages.

Parents say

Based on 9 reviews

Based on 7 reviews

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review of movie unhinged

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Unhinged is a violent road rage thriller starring Russell Crowe . It takes the standard features of many people's daily commute -- ridiculous traffic, short tempers, and distracted driving -- and ramps them up to horrific levels. Beneath the slasher-film amounts of violence, which includes graphic on-camera stabbings, burnings, beatings, and tons of blood, the takeaway is arguably that perhaps we should be more patient with one another, since we don't know who's on the receiving end of the bird we're flipping or what they're going through at the moment. Or, at least in this case, what drug they might have taken, as the villain is a prescription pill popper. You can also expect strong language ("s--t," "f--k") and some product placement (Volvo, iPhone).

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Mature Themes, Violent, 17+

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Don’t let kids anywhere near this, what's the story.

In UNHINGED, Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is running late getting her teenage son to school -- again -- and traffic is causing her morning to unravel. So she drives around traffic on the shoulder. And then, when a stoplight turns green and the pickup in front of her doesn't move, she lays into her horn. The driver of the truck ( Russell Crowe ) catches up to her at the next light. An imposing figure looming above her station wagon, he addresses Rachel through her son's window, and says that it was rude to not first be given a "courtesy tap." He apologizes for zoning out and explains that he's had a rough day, and he asks for a similar apology from her. Clearly uncomfortable, she refuses to give on the ground that she has nothing to apologize for. The driver then becomes not just hostile, but murderous, seeking to find and kill everyone associated with Rachel.

Is It Any Good?

Director Derrick Borte keeps viewers on the edge of their passenger seat, revving up identifiable tension and driving through the most extreme version of a scenario many people worry about. Unhinged accesses the fear and adrenaline that lots of people experience when they're involved in any kind of confrontation with a stranger in another car. The film is essentially one long, high-stress chase, with a little cat-and-mouse action on the side. Most of its 90 minutes takes place behind the wheel, and what doesn't is bloody and murderous. It's chilling and recognizable, but it's not believable -- there's just too much that could be solved an easier way.

To enjoy the film, you can't overthink it -- but maybe you should. On face value, Unhinged revolves around a message that adults may want to share with teen drivers (or, as we see in the movie, that teens may want to share with agro-driving adults). The film offers an indelible way to say, "Hey, we should all be a little nicer on the road, and, incidentally, you never know what's going on in the life of a bad driver." But if you dig deeper, the movie's subliminal messaging -- and its timing -- is concerning. We already know that women apologize far more than men do. So to have a threatening male character continue to demand that a woman apologize -- as the driver does here -- plays into a problematic power dynamic. Curiously, both Rachel and the driver are going through divorces. Which kind of makes you wonder what, exactly, motivated Carl Ellsworth to write this screenplay, because the fact that Crowe is a murderer on a rampage is underplayed next to the fact that this is really the ultimate comeuppance for a woman. If anything, it feels like ex-husband fantasy fiction.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the violence in Unhinged . How does it compare to what you'd expect to see in a slasher movie? Would you categorize this as a horror movie, or a thriller? Why are those genres sometimes hard to distinguish?

Video game strategy becomes a solution in the film. Can games have a positive impact on kids?

Why do you think the story revolved around Rachel's unwillingness to apologize? What's the power dynamic of a situation in which a large man upset about his divorce terrorizes a small woman who's also going through a divorce just because she didn't apologize?

Why do you think road rage has become a problem? What can people do to diffuse situations that involve a frustrated driver?

Movie Details

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Caren Pistorius as sparky single mum Rachel escaping pursuit

Unhinged review – darkly funny tale of road rage

Russell Crowe’s car chase thriller is an entertaining send-up of emasculated men

S tuck in standstill traffic, single mum Rachel (the sparky Caren Pistorius) is late dropping her son, Kyle (Gabriel Bateman), at school and on the verge of being fired from an already precarious freelance hairdressing gig. Her ex-husband is being difficult and her ailing mother has recently been relocated to a care home. When she honks her horn and impatiently overtakes a grey pick-up truck, it’s understandable. Unfortunately, its driver is also feeling fragile. Unnamed in the film but listed in its credits as “The Man”, a hulking, sweating, highly medicated Russell Crowe demands an apology. “I need you to learn what a bad day is and I need you to learn how to say sorry,” he seethes, attempting to run her over for the remainder of the film.

This zippy car chase thriller shares some DNA with Joel Schumacher’s 1993 black comedy Falling Down , which saw Michael Douglas’s white collar divorcee clashing with Los Angeles’s multicultural residents after abandoning his car and making his way across the city on foot. Both are darkly funny studies and send-ups of emasculated men, with Crowe’s character claiming to have been “dismissed as the unworthiest fuck to ever walk the planet”.

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‘unhinged’: film review.

Russell Crowe's road-rage revenge thriller is the first major release to screen in theaters as coronavirus lockdown lifts in the U.K.

By Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton

'Unhinged' Review

Any movie that casts Russell Crowe as a hulking great slab of thin-skinned, two-fisted, short-fuse machismo has got to be aiming a self-aware wink at its target audience. But the knowing humor ends right there with Unhinged , the kind of stubbornly lowbrow revenge thriller that could easily have been released 20 or 30 years ago, probably with a washed-up minor action star as the lead. Director Derrick Borte’s dreary B-movie bloodbath is a baffling career move for a screen heavyweight with Crowe’s track record of memorable, Oscar-winning roles. Then again, the New Zealand-born star did stage a very public “divorce auction” two years ago, so maybe he needs the paycheck?

The makers of Unhinged are hardly the kind of heavy hitters that typically partner with a star like Crowe. The German-born Borte made a promising feature debut in 2010 with his self-penned dark comedy The Joneses , but he has subsequently specialized in minor genre pieces, while screenwriter Carl Ellsworth’s credits have been spotty since he scored early success with the high-concept psycho-thrillers Red Eye (2005) and Disturbia (2007).

Release date: Aug 21, 2020

But of course, Unhinged is less noteworthy for its cinematic pedigree than for being the first major movie to arrive in theaters as physical screenings begin again after coronavirus lockdown. With a fluid release date that has changed multiple times in recent months, and reviews likely to be mixed at best, the film’s commercial prospects are far from certain. Even so, it topped the German box office last week ahead of wider European roll-out this week. The current U.S. release date through Solstice Studios is Aug. 21.

Mostly shot on the suburban fringes of New Orleans, though the anonymous milieu is never specified, Unhinged begins with a minor road-rage altercation on a freeway off-ramp. Caren Pastorius ( Slow West , Mortal Engines ) plays Rachel, a recently divorced single mom struggling to balance work stress with parenthood, who blasts her horn loudly at a pickup truck blocking her exit.

Affronted at Rachel’s lack of courtesy, the truck’s driver (Crowe) tracks her down and demands a face-saving exchange of apologies. When she refuses, he unleashes Hell. After following Rachel to a gas station, he steals her phone and begins a vengeful vendetta of violence against her friends and family that escalates into a full-blown fight to the death.

A homicidal psychopath struggling with divorce and depression issues, Crowe’s character is simply called Man in the credits, presumably with the intention of making him some kind of universal Everyman. Does he represent the Beast inside all of us? A spurious thesis, but even the clumsiest stab at psychological shading might have elevated a relentlessly dumb film that seems to be entirely devoid of sociopolitical hinterland.

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A smarter writer-director team might have goosed up this sensational revenge scenario into a timely state-of-the-nation address in the tradition of Do the Right Thing , Falling Down  or Changing Lanes . But Ellsworth’s clunky screenplay has no evident subtext. It barely even has text.

Released in a charged climate of fierce political polarization, Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo movement and pandemic panic,  Unhinged  has a message that seems to boil down to: Women should carefully avoid triggering violent misogynists into venting their White Male Rage. Hmmm, OK then. Just a thought, but summer 2020 may not be the ideal release window for All Lives Matter: The Movie .

In fairness, Crowe — coming off head-turning work in The Loudest Voice and True History of the Kelly Gang — deserves credit for fully committing to such low-grade material with his generally believable, bullish performance as an irredeemably grotesque cesspit of toxic masculinity. The 56-year-old star is a grunting, growling presence, manspreading across the screen like the brawny pickup truck he drives. Sweaty and greasy, he hogs every scene like a mobile mountain of condemned meat.

Then again, there is sadly no self-mocking irony or satirical edge to this steam-belching performance, no hint that the star secretly knows he is better than the material. Perhaps he doesn’t. Indeed, Crowe appears to take Unhinged as seriously as he takes himself, which is very seriously indeed. In doing so, he pretty much denies the film even the consolation prize of being a trashy guilty pleasure. When an actor leaves you wondering how much better Nicolas Cage would have been in the same role, something is clearly amiss.

Even as mindless entertainment, Unhinged is mostly running on empty. Crowe’s colorless co-stars are saddled with thinly drawn stock characters and on-the-nose dialogue. Exterior locations look drab and gray, interiors cramped and stagey.

Paul Buckley’s pounding, galloping, deafening score also tries way too hard to inject much-needed tension into a patchy, preposterous plot. In fairness, Borte and his team deliver some spectacular car stunts, but scenes of bloody violence feel perfunctory and affectless. When minor characters are brutally butchered, it’s frankly hard to care.

Without Crowe’s brooding performance, Unhinged would just be another forgettable, formulaic, functional B-movie. With the burly Kiwi on board, it is transformed into a forgettable, formulaic, functional B-movie starring Russell Crowe. For lockdown-addled film fans who have waited months to see an exciting big-screen spectacle again, the message is clear: Wait a little longer.

Production companies: Solstice Studios, Ingenious Media Distributor: Solstice Studios (U.S.) Cast: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson , Austin P. McKenzie Director: Derrick Borte Producers: Lisa Ellzey, Mark Gill, Andrew Gunn Screenwriter: Carl Ellsworth Director of photography: Brendan Galvin Production designer: Fredrick Waff Costume designer: Denise Wingate Music: David Buckley Editors: Michael McCusker, Steve Mirkovich, Tim Mirkovich Casting: Raylin Sabo, Mary Vernieu Rated R, 90 minutes

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  1. Unhinged movie review & film summary (2020)

    Rated R for strong violent content, and language throughout. 90 minutes. Cast. Russell Crowe as The Man. Gabriel Bateman as Kyle. Caren

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    Unhinged's story may seem simple and straightforward, but this raucous road rage thriller still terrifies thanks to Russell Crowe's chilling commitment in the

  4. Reviews: Unhinged

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    I allow for my kids to be exposed to some violence and cursing, but refrain from exposing them to sexual themes and content. I think this movie

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