Unhinged - C
Rated R, 91 minutes
Even without the recent pandemic, the road rage thriller "Unhinged" would be the type of disposable, end-of-summer movie following big summer blockbusters. Trashy, shallow yet low-brow fun, it stars Oscar-winner Russell Crowe, slumming it here as the nasty villain.
Rachel ("Slow West's" Caren Pistorius) is running late getting to work when she crosses paths with Tom Cooper (Crowe) at a traffic light. Soon, Rachel finds herself and everyone she loves the target of a man who feels invisible and is looking to make one last mark upon the world by teaching her a series of deadly lessons. What follows is a dangerous game of cat and mouse that proves you never know who you're driving next to.
The pulpy, sporadically fun "Unhinged" is directed by Derrick Borte ("The Joneses") and written by Carl Ellsworth, responsible for writing thrillers such as "Red Eye" and "The Last House on the Left." "Unhinged" could've been a taut, complex thriller that examines why people engage in road rage (Steven Spielberg's first film "Duel" did this very well), but it barely scratches the surface into why Rachel set off a nut job like Tom, who clearly has some other issues going on. Instead, it relies on blood, shock value and plenty of chase scenes, unsurprising given its theme; the main surprise is how incredibly far Rachel must drive to her son's school.
While we know so little about Tom, Crowe still has some fun in the film's most memorable role and in what seems like a take-the-money-and-run part. He still can command scenes and provides the film with some much-needed intensity, particularly when he kills someone in a diner or causes a major highway crash, bringing back memories of one of my still-favorite 1970's TV guilty pleasures, "Smash-Up on Interstate 5."
You won't be surprised by the ending, but it will certainly give new meaning to the term "courtesy honk." Outside of Crowe, "Unhinged," is mostly forgettable, but may be entertaining enough to fill some socially-distanced theater seats as they reopen this weekend. If you opt to emerge from your quarantine this weekend to see "Unhinged," be safe, courteous and don't cut anyone off, there's no need for life imitating art in this case.