There's nothing wrong a decent thriller where two people face off on the road using their wits and their heavy machinery. So this movie could have been the Duel (1971) of the 2020s (or at the very least a Joy Ride (2001)), but unfortunately, it lacks a director like Steven Spielberg or John Dahl to make it work.<br/><br/>After a shocking opening scene, director Derrick Borte starts off nicely with a disturbing montage that shows us the horrible consequences of explosive aggression and road rage. For a long time, his movie seems to be a passionate plea to have more patience and compassion with others in a harsh society where everyone is under constant pressure, because you never know what the other person is going through. Too bad that he gradually undermines this message with cheap shocks and sadistic violence.<br/><br/>It's good to see Russell Crowe again after such a long absence, because watching his heavily disturbed maniac snap and terrorize a lady that just happened to piss him off is definitely one of the scarce highlights of the film. No Oscar material, but the man is still an acting heavyweight (no pun intended... well, maybe a little), so much so that leading lady Caren Pistorius cannot hope to carry this movie in his presence. In fact, her character is so passive and uninteresting that I felt very little sympathy for her plight. I don't know if it was the intention here, but I always love movies where you cheer for the bad guy for a very long time, like Face-Off and Law Abiding Citizen; everyone loves tragic villains, and you always hope that the makers can delay that moment where you lose sympathy for them until the very last.<br/><br/>Unfortunately, this moment comes way too soon in the movie. In the first half we get some motivation from Crowe's and Pistorius' character for their actions, but that wears off quickly in an endless rampage that seems to be an excuse for a lot of torture porn. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, as long as you keep developing your key players. Especially psychopaths work best when they remain completely unexplained mysteries, or when they get fleshed out properly, like the psychologic-meltdown classic Falling Down. However, Crowe and Pistorius never get beyond their minimal and one-dimensional backstories. When the bad guy gets to the point where I no longer rooted for him (again, way too soon), you hope that your allegiance changes back to the heroine. But Pistorius' character keeps making such bad decisions (up to and including a laughably set up climax) that by that time, I no longer cared about either, and could only worry about the collateral damage.<br/><br/>Too bad for Crowe and Jimmi Simpson, who probably have one of the best scenes together when this movie is still promising. But the pressure to marry action with psychology, and to increase the stakes with such disregard for realism really starts working against the film and characters. I don't mind violence in movies at all, but it should make me invest in characters, not get desensitized and bored.<br/><br/>I like a good battle of character like everyone else, but when the action and suspense start feeling stale because I'm no longer emotionally engaged, then it's just mostly a waste of time. But granted, it's not a complete disaster and it had its moments. I hear people praising this movie as super-suspenseful, so by all means, try it out. But don't say I didn't warn you.
Action / Thriller
Action / Thriller
Academy Award winner Russell Crowe stars in Unhinged, a psychological thriller that takes something we've all experienced- road rage - to an unpredictable and terrifying conclusion. Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is running late getting to work when she crosses paths with a stranger (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.
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10/19/2020 11:02:09 PM