2.5 out of 5 stars
The world is angry. All you have to do is open your newsfeed on social media and you can tell that people are outraged at something. This reality is not new to human history, but it seems to be accentuated by the minute-by-minute internet commentary from around the world. This fury manifests itself in different stories of road rage, protests, stupid Twitter comments and potentially as violence. A familiar tale that moves from the news to our entertainment options. These acrimonious stories manage to spill over into our cinemas and televisions.
That is the basis and message of Russell Crowe’s latest suburban thriller, Unhinged. The Academy Award winning actor embodies the pent up rage of the mentally unstable Tom Hunter. A man who uses his divorce as the tipping point for his emotional state. Actions that move into a series of self-professed violent redemption against anyone who crosses his path. After fiercely confronting his ex-wife and her new partner, the enraged man heads out onto the infuriating streets of Los Angeles.
While he comes to terms with his vicious act and sits at a traffic light, single-mother Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is running late as she is trying to get her son to school. In her impatience, she holds down on the car horn a bit too long as she sits behind Tom’s pick up. A simple situation that happens every day around the world, but it is enough to capture the ire of the irate man. He then decides to take it to the next level and provide the young mother with the worst day of her life. Enacting actions that take the concept of road rage to new depths of terror and brutality.
Initially, this film has whispers of Michael Douglas’ Falling Down, but this all was changed within the first five minutes. Crowe’s performance seems to convey all of the rages of everyone who feel that the world is unjust and things can only be fixed by desperate acts. He proves that he has a charisma that still draws people into his world, but conveys a man filled with rage mixed with pity. Even though this is not one of his more memorable roles, the actor manages to show his abilities to make the most of anything thrown his way.
Outside of Crowe’s performance, the overall experience becomes a standard suspense thriller, weaving a story that taps into the modern-day adventures of road rage and mental illness. Caren Pistorius does manage to convey the fear and layered nuances of the young divorcee who is just trying to get by in life. Unfortunately, her performance is marred to the lack of believability in a final act that turns into a ridiculous chase scene of happenstance between a Toyota and a Volvo. This predictable violent road trip that may cause some to leave the theatre with a bit of frustration at the outcome. Leaving us with a conclusion that is tied up a bit too neatly for being such a messy process. Unhinged has something to say about the era we live in. Still, it does not truly speak into the matters confronted by its characters and ultimately, fails to find its voice in the end.
Reel Dialogue: The frustration of isolation
It could be easy to say this film is about anger, mental illness or even the over-reach of social media. Yet, there seems to be a deeper issue to address. Watching the anguish of all of the characters in Unhinged proves we all need others to help us along on the path. Tom Hunter seemed to be suffering from a deep feeling of being alone on this planet.
Are we alone on this journey called life? It is easy to even feel isolated in a crowd or when you are in amongst a traffic jam or on a busy train commute. Isolation can be a physical reality, but for many it is truly a state of mind. We can seek out solace in personal relationships or through technology, but these things do eventually have limited satisfaction.
This profoundly philosophical query can be answered by saying that God is there for us all. Mankind needs to merely turn around and acknowledge His presence. During times of joy or loneliness, God is there for us and provides a relationship unlike any other. Where do you start? Begin with the first book of the New Testament - Matthew 28:20 - ‘behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ and then go back to beginning of the story and introduce yourself to the person of Jesus. Matthew
You never have to be alone again...