Unhinged: Another Review. By Alif Majeed.
Every once in a while, you have an A-lister who would do something that borders on a B-movie. Nicolas Cage might be a perineal punching bag in this regard, and once that point is crossed, it boils right into self-parody. It might always not necessarily be a bad thing, but sometimes you realize that the guy has got to the point where he is coasting along parodying himself. And when you see the movie, you finally know what the actor would look like in a second rung movie.
Russell Crowe is an actor who HAS chewed the scenery before. Rather spectacularly, in fact. And one of the best things about him is he is pretty comfortable playing second fiddle to others. There might be times when he does this without drawing any attention to himself like in Proof, one of his earlier movies where he gracefully lets Hugo Weaving do all the heavy lifting. And even when he was going over the top, it was usually in the company of other A-listers like Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise in Virtuosity and The Mummy, respectively.
Sadly, Unhinged is where all his trademark ticks and quirks take center stage, and he goes full insane in the esteemed company of well, himself. It is a movie that feels like a cross between The Hitcher, its sequel, and Falling down, and what came out is The Hitcher 2.5: This time, I Brought My Car.
It is an easy movie to rage and rant on, but the movie’s problems go way beyond toxic masculinity or the allegories it tries to depict about the current state of the world. It seeks to say too many things in a self-righteous way that feels almost tiring. That is its main problem. Take out all that, and what you get is a movie that is just too damn slow and boring.
When all the depravity and craziness feel like it is going to give you a hangover, you think of watching Unhinged ironically. It doesn’t even succeed in that respect, as just when you think you are going to find something ironic to like in the movie, it gets stuck again, making you try to shift your attention elsewhere. It also doesn’t help that every other scene; it suddenly just decides to shifts gear by throwing everything on the screen.
For a while, it does look like a Rear Window scenario where only the protagonist, Rachel (Caren Pistorius), would know Russell Crowe is doing. That makes it almost disappointing when many people realize mighty fast that a deranged killer is on the prowl. Maybe its a play at how technology makes it impossible to hide something like that (the opening credits depicts people in different stages of public rage caught on camera) but again feels like a major bummer.
The makers probably felt they got lucky when they got Russell Crowe for the movie. Who wouldn’t want an Oscar-winning A-lister in what is essentially a play on B-movie archetypes? But what could have ended up as one of Unhinge’s highlights is what makes its wheels come right off the car he chases Rachel in. Russell Crowe’s presence almost comes off as too in your face, almost to the point of distraction. You know it’s not enough for the villain to beat the crap out of a guy to death. For that final starry flourish, as Russell Crowe plays the villain, he also has to stab the guy in the neck and jeer at the audience to remind you that it is “RUSSELL CROWE” who is playing the villain.
Caren Pistorius (Slow West) is saddled with the thankless role of a victim caught on Russell Crowe’s deranged warpath due to a traffic light incident. Given the circumstances, it is surprising how much better she comes across. However, getting the short end of the stick is Jimmi Simpson, in a mandatory best friend who you know won’t get make it out well. What is amusing, though, is how quickly he becomes dispensable.
Calling it the worst movie of the summer might be pushing it too far, considering the unprecedented situation that we had this year where the summer season is almost nonexistent in the first place. Also, though the movie virtually screams out, saying, “Relax guys, it is just a brainless movie which should not be taken seriously.” The problem is that the makers shoot themselves in the foot by trying to make too many statements about issues that deserved a better movie.
Unhinged is probably best viewed in the confines of your house when you are doing other stuff and watching the movie as a distraction. The kind of movie that you wait it out instead of rushing to the theatre because you know you can stream it online soon after.
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