NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Saturday August 22, 2020
Regal 16 Cinemas – Lacey, Washington
#27 new movie seen in theaters in 2020
A portly Russell Crowe plays Tom Cooper, a man on medication, sweating, and the portrait of the perfectly titled movie. Cooper is unbalanced, tethering between madness and sanity, iron-gripping his truck’s steering wheel.
Viewers don’t know why, is he about to have a heart attack? Is he constipated? He pops a pill or two, grabs a hammer and goes into a house and starts attacking those inside. Screaming ensues, followed by blood spattering death, then Cooper burns the house down.
That’s only the opening five minutes.
Enter a woman who has overslept named Rachel Hunter (Caren Pistorious). Upon taking her son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman) to school late, running into traffic, she is waiting behind a truck at a green light. She has some passenger anger and honks at the truck to get moving. Nothing happens, so she honks louder. Ultimately, she pulls her car around the truck and, lo and behold, it’s Dom Deluise in Russell Crowe’s profusely sweating frame.
(one asks: why did Russell Crowe need to put so much weight on for this role?)
Tom Cooper rolls down his window beside Rachel and asks for an apology. A simple, friendly tap on the horn would have sufficed, after all. Rachel basically shrugs him off impatiently, which causes him to tell her she’s about to have a really bad day.
And so that’s the setup for what follows in Unhinged, a story that reminded me at times of Rutger Hauer in The Hitcher, as far as pacing, malevolent behavior and intentions. Only instead of a hitchhiker, Crowe is playing a road raged, broken man. We get some kind of explanation during an intense diner scene between Rachel’s divorce attorney and Cooper who intercepts the meeting after swiping Rachel’s cell phone. Cooper is going to make Rachel and everybody she knows suffer his wrath because she didn’t honk courteously at him.
If you can get past the fact that strangers on the road snap for the darndest of reasons the film is a lesson in tension. There are some good vehicle crash scenes, like one where a policeman is hit and attempts to radio for help only to be squashed by a dump truck (cringe!).
Tom Cooper’s relentless obsession with torturing Rachel leaves viewers fearful for Rachel and her son, Kyle. As stated in our just left the theater video – no spoiler – review below, Tom Cooper’s reasoning for going nuts isn’t explained very thoroughly to viewers. There is a vagueness to it that, while there is an explanation in the diner why he’s so angry at the world, it would have had a little more power and perhaps even a wee bit of empathy had we had at least one small setup scene, flashback, or cutaway that drilled this home a bit more.
Also, I liked how Tom Cooper used 2020 technology to show the horrors involved there. More and more stalkers in movies are using technology. That’s realistic, although it might date the film somewhat as time goes on and something more secure and better comes along.
This is an entertaining film if you can just let go and run with it. Those that prefer to overthink films and look for every conceivable plot hole will probably be bothered a few times, but Kara and I both found this to be a mostly fun, sometimes brutal, thrill ride. It’s not too graphically bloody, but it’s violent.
It won’t win any awards for anybody involved with the film, but it succeeds at telling a taut tale about a man who is wrecked emotionally and seeks to punish a stranger and those she loves and knows. Is it worth seeing in theaters — assuming it’s safe to do so in your area, of course? Yes. Recommended.
Rating (out of 5 possible stars): ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ – Good
The Movie Reopening Experience
This was our first new movie seen in theaters since The Hunt back in March 2020 in Las Vegas (see: 20+ The Hunt Reviews – Not as politically charged, but not that good either) and our 27th new movie watched in theaters in 2020. The experience in August 2020 was not that different from theaters back in March. I realize that might sound a bit anti-climactic, but the theaters were already practicing social distancing with seating in March,
There were maybe 20-25 people in the theater. Most were not wearing masks covering their faces, but had masks near and/or around their faces. It was more like once everybody was in the theater the masks came off. We didn’t wear masks while watching the film either, eating popcorn and drinks just doesn’t work with a mask on.
This wasn’t our very first trip back to the movie theaters since reopening. The day before we took our grandchildren to see Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back on Friday August 21, that is currently running at the same theater. The kids didn’t make it through the entire film, but it was fun to see a little bit of that awesome movie again. They had it showing on their ScreenX format theater — but not in ScreenX format unfortunately. Tons of seats in that gigantic theater and, again, a very small crowd of maybe 30 people tops. This was the very first showing of this movie at the theater since it reopened in the afternoon.
Readers might note that this is the very first movie review ever posted to this blog. I know, that might seem odd considering the name of the blog. With our one year blog anniversary approaching fast, we’ve decided we’re now going to post reviews of movies watched in theaters at this blog first, before posting the shorter Letterboxd version. The reviews here will be longer than the version posted to Letterboxd. That will be more of the summary, perhaps a mostly copy/paste from here. You’re not missing anything there if you’ve read here, I guess, is the point.
Our just left the theater no-spoiler video review will usually be posted a short time before this so that we can include the video embedded in these posts. We also plan to link back from the videos to here as well, so those watching can read the more detailed text review and comment here.