Crowe embodies the left behind, discarded American male who spends one day free of laws and rules. It is a daylight tense film with an edgy pace. I cannot care about a stupid victim. Why do so many movie victims lack the survival instinct? Especially one who has her young son with her. Sure, Rachel (Caren Pastorius) is just an average newly divorced woman trying to care for her son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman) and maintaining a freelance job as a hairdresser. Getting up late one day means she will also make her son late for school. He will have after-school detention. As they face apocalyptic traffic, being 30 minutes late for an appointment with a client is unacceptable and she gets fired by cell phone. Why in movies about the end-of-world scenarios and zombie infiltration, people always abandon their cars on roads and highways with the doors flung open? Who would really do that, even if you were escaping from a madman right behind you. Trying to make up a few minutes, Rachel waits impatiently for a pickup truck to move. The driver (Russell Crowe) has zoned out, so Rachel uses her car horn to get him moving.
If UNHINGED serves only one purpose, it tells all drivers to be on the lookout for disgruntled postal workers, unjustly fired factory workers and a middle-age man who just killed his ex-wife, her new lover and burned his former house to the ground. Unhinged Man demands an apology for Rachel’s brutish behavior. He’s having a bad day and she has placed herself right his line of sight. Hey, Rachel is having a rough morning too. Her refusal to give Unhinged Man a sincere apology is the only moment of her standing her ground. Since Unhinged Man has voluntarily left society’s confines by killing, he now has nothing to lose. He decides to teach Rachel a lesson. Unhinged Man tells Rachel she will experience real pain. After dropping off Kyle at school, Rachel calls a friend to meet her at a diner. Getting ahead of Unhinged Man’s truck, Rachel soon sees that she is being tailed. Instead of running out of gas as all movie victims do, Rachel stops at a gas station. We are now freed of shots showing the car on “E”
In the gas station’s store, Rachel sees Unhinged Man has found her. A bystander offers to walk Rachel to her car. He is sure Unhinged Man will back off when he sees Rachel has a man with her. Instead, Unhinged Man hits him with his truck and then runs him over. Now, Rachel should wake up and run back into the gas station store and barricade the door. But Rachel gets in her car and the chase is on. Rachel’s cell phone is not in the car, but she does have a full tank of gas. She can drive 300 miles. Unhinged Man is now in “avenging angel” mode and laws, driving rules and a diner full of people are not of any hinderance to him. And he has Rachel’s phone. Since Unhinged Man has no limitations, he keeps elevating the tension. It should be about now that Rachel wises up.
Rachel gives us nothing to use if we were driving around town and found ourselves being followed by a crazy man in a big truck. Not giving Unhinged Man a sincere apology was Rachel’s summit of assertiveness. There is no denying that UNHINGED is filled with tension and frankly, Crowe is fascinating. There have been criticism over why an Academy Award winning movie star would do this low budget movie. I’ll take a guess: They paid his quote, he would be seated in a truck for most of the movie, he didn’t have a lot of dialogue to memorize and the part required a fat, older man with a rough worn face. Supposedly, Crowe gained a lot of weight to play Roger Ailes in THE LOUDEST VOICE and he wanted do to another role before he started a strict, 1,000 calories a day diet. Who knows? Maybe Crowe only had to be on set for two weeks.
Big movie stars either have to work because of their lifestyle or they need to stay relevant. There are only so many prestigious, headed for Best Picture nomination, films made every year. In fact, let’s congratulate Crowe on agreeing to work with a relatively unproven team: director Derrick Borte and screenwriter Carl Ellsworth. Considering that Crowe has a reputation of being difficult, he is pleased with the film, doing publicity and making a short video inviting people to go out and see the film in a theater.
For a complete list of Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to:.www.rottentomatoes.com/author/author-3571/ Contributing to: FilmsInReview: www.filmsinreview.com FilmFestivalToday: www.filmfestivaltoday.com Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org