Review: Russell Crowe is Scary Good in ‘Unhinged’

Movie fans get excited. As theaters slowly start to open across the country this weekend, Russell Crowe’s road rage thriller Unhinged is perhaps the perfect film to kick off their return.

In Unhinged, audiences follow truck driver Tom Cooper (Crowe) as he obsessively attempts to ‘right’ the disrespect he believes he was given after Rachel Hunter (Caren Pistorius) honked at him to alert him to a green light at a stoplight.

Tom stares daggers at Rachel in response before he givers her the polite opportunity to issue an apology. When Rachel refuses this request, audiences are led into a descent into madness and fear as Tom begins to go to great lengths to seek violent revenge on Rachel and those around her.

While the plot may be a bit simple, albeit intense, the film sets itself apart through the performances of Crow and Pistorious as the two struggle desperately towards opposing goals: One to punish, the other to survive.

However, when a film is somewhat predictable from the get-go, its key to success is to ensure that the performances are engaging.

With Russell Crowe at the helm in the role of the unstable and violent Tom Cooper, audiences are met with a performance full of raw intensity along the lines of his famous roles in films such as Gladiator or Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

Throughout the film it is apparent that Tom Cooper’s character, complete with a believable southern accent, comes from a dark place of despair. Yet, despite Crowe’s darkly dynamic performance and the exploration of Tom’s violent and destructive backstory in the film’s first few scenes, Cooper still feels written as a bit of a one-dimensional character.

Review: Russell Crowe is Scary Good in 'Unhinged'

Caren Pistorius does a decent job in the role of survivor and eventual revenge taker Rachel, but what particularly caught my eye throughout the film was the very believable performance from Gabriel Bateman.

Bateman, who plays Rachel’s son Kyle, performs spectacularly as a scared child despite the limited passenger-seat-sized space he was given to perform in. While some child actors seem as if they were only cast due to a parent’s friendship with a director or other such connection, Bateman’s performance proves that the young actor genuinely talented beyond his years, truly earned his role in the film.

Review: Russell Crowe is Scary Good in 'Unhinged'

The Verdict

Ultimately, Unhinged is a somewhat predictable chase film brought to life by Director Derrick Borte’s use of realistic action scenes and healthy moments of intense suspense.

The combination of Borte’s direction with a titillatingly demented performance from Crowe results in a film worthy of a return to theaters, whether it be a drive-in theater (which would seem super appropriate considering the film’s vehicle-based story) or a local chain in need of support.

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