The next time the traffic light turns green and the driver ahead of you doesn’t immediately move forward, think twice before angrily honking your horn. That’s the message of this cautionary road-rage rampage.
Set in New Orleans, it’s pouring rain as hulking Tom Cooper (Russell Crowe) removes his wedding ring before methodically murdering and incinerating his ex-wife and her new lover in their home.
Cut to Rachel (Caren Pistorius) who oversleeps; she’s late to drop off her son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman) at school. A single mother, negotiating a messy divorce, she’s impatient. Angrily, she honks at the driver of a Ford pick-up truck who lingers at an intersection after a red light turns green.
Oops! That driver is menacing, misogynistic Tom Cooper who – as we later discover – has not only lost his wife but also his job. As a result, he’s become a maniacal psycho-killer.
Soon, Rachel becomes the focus for his gruesome fury: “I don’t think you know what a really bad day is, but you’re going to find out.”
When he steals her cell phone and scans her contact list, it turns out that he’s determined to hunt down, assault and kill everyone she holds dear.
The action-packed screenplay was written by Carl Ellsworth (“Disturbia,” “Red Eye”) and formulaically directed by Derrick Borte (“American Dreamer”), who keeps snarling, glowering Crowe behind the wheel, pedal-to-the-metal most of the time.
While lumbering Crowe is certainly competent as “The Man,” it’s a crazed, sadistic role, a volatile part that might easily have gone to Nicolas Cage or Mel Gibson.
Originally scheduled for July, “Unhinged” is the first major release since the COVID pandemic closed theaters. Reminiscent of old Charles Bronson killer-thrillers, it’s already opened in Crowe’s native Australia, along with Canada, Germany and England. According to global box-office reports, it’s earned $1.7 million but it needs to gross $30 million in the US to be considered profitable.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Unhinged” is a feisty 5. Not worth risking a trip to the theater; wait for it on VOD.