Have you ever wondered what is going inside the minds of all those sad, gloomy or neutral faces we see on Roads? What lies inside the head, we see behind the car windows, on which we honk mercilessly? Aren’t we in any case, fueling their insanity? What if someday, our actions lead to ghastly consequences. Such one consequence is explored in Derrick Borte thriller drama film, Unhinged, starring Russell Crowe.
Unhinged focuses on incidents of road rage that are becoming deadlier day by day. People are turning into monsters on the street that is leading to unwanted accidents, and sometimes death. What fuels this bloodshed is not entirely the flaws of the driver, but the constant honks, breaking of traffic rules and people turning their cars in the middle of the road, act as a catalyst to our already chaotic life. People have so much come at them, that their brains can’t handle it. Their outburst is violent and horrifying.
The movie begins with a gruesome scene, where Russell Crowe, as the unnamed character, climbs down the car and enters an underlit house, killing and burning down everyone inside. We never get inside this house and remain in the car, while hearing the screams of the killer and the killed, learning that the actions that led to the crime involve cheating and an excessively possessive male.
After the prologue scene, all the title montages suggest the basic theme of the film, which centres around road rage. Soon, we meet Rachel (Caren Pistorius) and her son, Kyle (Gabriel Bateman) who are already having a rough day and are stuck in traffic. Rachel loses her job, being late again. She is totally pissed off when on one traffic spot she is met with a Volvo station wagon that isn’t moving forward even when the signal is green. Rachel keeps honking and cursing at the person until his car moves.
A little bit further, the Man in the car (Russell Crowe) rolls his window down and calls out to Rachel, asking her not to spoil people’s mood by honking. Friction between them leads to an argument. The man, who is said to be some “Tom Cooper” in the film is a psychotic man as the makers established in the prologue scene and only the viewers know what trouble Rachel is inviting by not apologizing to him.
The squabble between Rachel and Tom leads to a scary car house that sends chills to Rachel. While she thinks it was just a funny act by this man, she drops off Kayle to school, but soon finds Tom’s car again, shadowing her like a grim reaper. Tom sneaks away Rachel’s phone and in order to teach her a lesson, starts killing her close one’s.
Rachel finds herself in the midst of chaos and she doesn’t ask for any of it. When Tom kills Rachel’s brother, he reasons his killing by saying, “I am here to make your sister realise that her words and actions have consequences.”
Words and Actions have Consequences
The main conflict of Unhinged pivots around how a small squabble, un minded words and sometimes unintentional gestures lead to unwanted consequences. Russell Crowe’s character, Tom is not particularly a human character in general terms, but more symbolically points towards an unwanted spirit that comes in your life, to teach one a lesson, like those in moral science or religious books.
Unhinged isn’t about Tom but Rachel who goes through a rough, horrifying day in her life, to understand a simple notion, that it is always safe to be kind. We, without fail, have a choice to be tender towards strangers, and we shouldn’t miss that gesture at all. Because we don’t know what the other person is going through or if he is a psychotic killer waiting for someone to just fuel his outburst.
Russell Crowe As The Unnamed Psychotic Killer
In Cinema, we have seen different variations of neurotic killers. While some of them have their own preconceived reasons for the manslaughter, others like The Joker, just do it for fun. Russell Crowe character falls under the former one. He must have been a loyal man in his life, who just kept thighs to himself, shelving the pain or possessive down under the skin. But his wife’s scandal lead became the trigger that couldn’t be pulled back once shot and Rachel meets that version of it. His intentions are underlined in his own dialogue,
“Every effort, every sacrifice, I have ever made in my invisible life has been dismissed and judged, ignored. I’ve been chewed up, used up and spat out so I think, ‘f**k it” Fred. I’ll make my contribution this way, through violence and retribution. ‘Cause that’s all I got left.”
Thus, decoding the character’s own lines, the makers show a man who has lived under a shadow his whole life, amounting to nothing. A particular event ignites his inner chaotic gunpowder as he blasts into a killing maniac. Though Russell has played it with all honesty, the character is not sketched with much thoughts and thread. It is superficial and loud rather than dangerous and suspenseful, like Javier Bardem’s character in No Country for Old Men. A loud character might shock or startle you in a superficial manner but they only look toyish and made up to a keen observer.
Unhinged runs for approximately 1 hour 30 minutes, the suitable length of narrative for one bad day in someone’s life. The action sequences and chase scenes keep the viewers gripped and Russell’s acting is a cherry on the top. Though the film doesn’t ’t leave a lasting impact but it does leave you with a message, Spare the Honk, if you can.
Do check out the film for a thrilling ride. It is streaming on Prime Video
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