Cert 15 Stars 4
Russell Crowe rampages back into cinemas in this brutal road rage thriller which courts controversy by offering sympathy for his maniac character who drives the action.
The Oscar winning star of Gladiator is one of my favourite actors and he delivers a double-barrelled performance as Tom, a regular guy who’s suffering a breakdown of the nervous variety, and who begins a campaign of terror against a fellow motorist who impatiently beeps at Tom on the morning school run and refuses to apologise when Tom asks her to.
This sly attempt at victim-blaming by the script is an attempt to lure us into a moral trap by encouraging us to sympathise with Tom, a self-pitying brute and the manifestation of the frothing anger of a certain type of disenfranchised middle-aged blue collar bloke.
The relatively unknown actress Caren Pistorius is equally great as the single mother subject to Tom’s violent fury and she’s given a brilliantly funny killer line which will probably define her career.
And the moral waters are further muddied by her realistic flaws such using her phone while she drives, meanwhile Tom uses smartphone tech to target her family and friends en route to kidnap, arson and some serious vehicle damage.
With a career-long appetite for meaty roles which allow him to chew the scenery, Crowe now appears to be twice the man he used to be, and his enormous bulk provides a Terminator-like imperviousness during Tom’s remorseless pursuit.
Tom’s such a relentless and magnificent monster this almost qualifies as a horror film, and it can be parked alongside Michael Douglas’s 1993 classic Falling Down for its mix of topical social commentary and terrific popcorn thrills.
Unhinged was a great re-introduction to cinema on my first trip since lockdown and as part of a safe and socially distanced audience it was brilliant to once again experience the unique excitement of watching films on the big screen.