Directed by Derrick Borte
July 16, 2020 (Germany) / August 21, 2020 (United States)
A road rage incident escalates out-of-control and now a woman must fight to survive and save those around her.
This is not too bad of a movie. At least once the action starts. There is a good chunk of this 90-minute film, maybe 20 or 30 minutes, that is just slow and dragging and meant to establish the female lead and her relationships and make the character into someone the audience will care about. Other than an opening moment that shows Russell Crowe’s character, never named on screen that I noticed, breaking into someone’s home and killing everyone inside there is nothing much that happens in this story until an incident at a gas station. And then things REALLY pick up.
The movie has some pretty solid action and shocking moments as The Man (as Crowe’s character is listed in the credits) having not been able to handle the events of his interaction with Rachel Flynn (Caren Pistorius) and her unwillingness to genuinely apologize to him flies off his handle and begins a campaign of terror. I cannot blame the character. I would not apologize either. Most traffic situations are not worth the anger and I would not justify the anger with anything heartfelt.
The Rachel character is the stock single mother with a kid and shitty ex-husband who is ridiculously struggling with her responsibilities and is ripe to cross the wrong person at the wrong time. This is a character made for a Lifetime movie and that is what this essentially is. A better than most Lifetime movie but still…
Rachel is not perpetually freaked out nor is she levelheaded beyond reality. She is a good mix of scared and smart that does not feel fake. She is a smart person that knows she is in danger and is not endless panicked.
Before writing this I found some material calling Crowe’s character “Tom Cooper” and giving solid info about the character and his motivations, but you get none of that in the movie. In the film there are some indications about where his anger stems from. He is on medication and at one point goes on a rant about divorce lawyers and ex-wives. Specifics on him though are short. He is essentially a movie monster that does bad things because he is bad. His whole goal is to teach her a lesson by giving her a really bad day but why he feels he must exactly is unknown.
I am not saying we needed the character to be humanized or anything, but a scene that gave us something substantive or a few lines even would have been desirable. It was not even really clear how he connected to the house and its occupants featured in the opening scene. Our villain was a plot device for action scenes and not something defined. Crowe does not really try here nor does he really have to do so because of the limitations of his character in the story. He comes in and growls and acts threatening. The only time Crowe really shines is when he meets up with Rachel’s divorce lawyer friend Andy (Jimmi Simpson). There he gets to act and be rather frightening.
The woman that is the focus of rage in this film, Rachel, is the only really well-done character. We get a sense of what matters to her and who she is. Her brother Fred (Austin P. McKenzie) and his girlfriend Mary (Juliene Joyner) and even her son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman), who spends a good chunk of the time with her in this movie, are not too well rounded though. Mary in particular is so not a character that he death barely registers. You do not feel bad for her.
This is a Lifetime movie headed with a villain being played by a well-known actor. Not in reality but in style. And I admit to occasionally liking some Lifetime films. Sometimes they create good stuff. I like this movie. It is not a deep and sophisticated film, but it is entertaining. While the characters could have been better crafted, it is in the end enjoyable.
This is a woman in jeopardy movie, and you come to these movies to see how the woman in jeopardy gets out of that jeopardy time and again and how the story is eventually resolved. And I have to say the action scenes are great. The crashes and the man coming after her just surprise you. And the collateral blood and carnage is just so shocking.
Unhinged is a better than it should be movie. It is not a great film, but it is a good film that will leave you satisfied. Because this is only better than it should be I will give this an if you want.