While many may welcome watching Russell Crowe misplace his marbles and embark on a people pummeling spree across Louisiana, one would hope such a concept is crafted with at least a dash of decorum. Sadly, Unhinged is a painfully inept and wonky display of unjustifiably wanton ultra-violence, clunky gaucheness with an awkwardly unfocused message about inner city mental health, buried beneath the bunkum.
The opening credit sequence suggests we’re in a time tinkering on civil unrest with people cracking under the weight of societal/psychological pressures, but its pertinence is lost amongst contrivances, defects and ridiculous set-pieces.
Crowe’s pill-popping, booze/person slugging psychotic “Tom Cooper” (Tommy Cooper would’ve been better) wanes from moderate miff into raging maniac pushed by society and circumstance into psychosis, with hammer and petrol canister. Cooper erupts like a Krakatoa of testosterone at single mother/hair stylist Rachel (Caren Pistorius) mid traffic while she’s driving her son Kyle to school.
Rachel becomes the catalyst who pisses Cooper off to the point of no return. Cooper then pursues Rachel demanding an apology going on to derail her and others’ lives (by killing everyone). Crowe puts his back into it, in terms of physical exertion, yet this Falling Down-like track and whack thriller is an implausible clutter of insipid characters granted life by mostly half-arsed performances.
After a gripping but albeit way too brief opening with Cooper snarling like a drunk mastiff in a pickup, characters saunter through an arc-less narrative with sub-plots punctuated by decent mid-budget car chases/crashes, into a clod of amorphous action mire. The plot judders then flatlines through an elongated drone of monotony during which Rachel and a chasm of extraneous supporting characters are introduced with pace obliterating exposition. These precede a momentarily enthralling car chase, briefly evoking Spielberg’s Duel, but anything would captivate after such endeavoured context setting babble.
Unhinged sprouts from Falling Down into Death Wish meets The Hitcher as Crowe’s blood dotted denim shirt wearing mega-bastard (with a beard) locks into mad as a wagon mode and rampages like Oliver Reed on a regular night out, destroying anyone who gets in his way. If the single location set likes of Locke enthralls during snail pace traffic then Unhinged should captivate with so many high octane road rage scenes and surplus “suspense” given Rachel’s predicament.
However, most of its (lazy) shocks derive from scenes featuring extreme violence and not as a result of decent writing, acting or directing. A scene where Rachel and Kyle are panicking partly because they can’t find a charger for their iPad while driving is unintentionally hilarious. The thrills do elevate for a moment when a chase scene ensues after far too long a build-up, but this moment of thankfulness is short lived as Unhinged deteriorates into 90s DTV dreadfulness dotted with ferocity while straying into unpardonable pap.