Russell Crowe is on his best big bad belligerent bastard form in Unhinged as Tom Cooper, a psychopath with nothing to lose who turns newly-divorced single mother Rachel Hunter’s day into a bloody nightmare. Derrik Borte’s nail-biting thriller shamelessly splices the DNA of Spielberg’s Duel with Schumacher’s Falling Down to create a film that never knowingly undersells its potboiler potential as it becomes increasingly manic and adrenalized and, ultimately, completely fanciful.
Cooper has already done some Very Bad Things by the time he clashes with Rachel (Caren Pistorius) at the traffic lights where he has paused for breath. She’s already running late and desperate to get her young son to school and still make her first business appointment of the day, so she irritably honks her horn. She refuses to apologise to the ursine Cooper for what he sees as her unnecessarily provocative behaviour and inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events which will turn her bad day into a blood-drenched terrible one.
Crowe is a huge and unstoppable force of nature here, a man-mountain who swats aside or crushes anyone who gets in the way of the retribution against an unjust world that he feels is rightfully his and his pursuit of Rachel (played with a desperate, exhausted sense of disbelief by Pistorius) is ruthless and remorseless and, in places, a bit ridiculous. The last act tips into cheerful implausibility, requiring an inordinate level of suspension-disbelief, but for all its lunatic plot gymnastics and lack of narrative nuance, Unhinged is never less than a gripping and riveting ninety-odd minute thrill ride.