Aug 24, 2020

Ridiculously absurd and entertaining and the first mainstream movie after the pandemic opening.


Grade: B

Director: Derrick Borte (The Joneses)

Screenplay: Borte

Cast: Russell Crowe (Boy Erased), Caren Pistorious (Slow West)

Runtime: 1h 30m

Rating: R

By: John DeSando

“I don't think you know what a bad day is! But you'll find out.” The Man (Russell Crowe)

B movies like Unhinged rely on revenge regularly (recently Retaliation and previously Cape Fear), and the result is usually cheap thrills and over-the-top bad guys just waiting for the ineffectual middle-class professionals to get their revenge on the perps.

Unhinged’s The Man is an obvious metaphor for the angry, disenfranchised, unemployed divorced weak man, whose anger comes out in road rage, in this case aimed at a young mom, Rachel (Caren Pistorious), who represents all the divorcees navigating kids and jobs without help. The action is tripped when she flips off the big guy (The Man), who is not moving at a green light. He promises her the bad day in the above quote.

The formulaic car chases ensue, well done as usual, with a scene in which The Man visits her lawyer waiting in a café. Shades of the verbal torture for which Hannibal Lecter was capable and a salutary way for director Derreck Borte to relieve the road tension. Similarly did a café in The Hitcher relieve and heighten tension in the same scene.

The Man starts off the film by burning a house with occupants, making this a bad day for him for sure.

Special notice should be given the use of mobile phone technology, ubiquitous nowadays in film but especially important for this plot. The phone allows bad guy to send harrowing images to families and track unwitting victims, and to be tracked himself.  Unhinged gets the tech right, making it integral and a comment on the ambivalence of our inventions.

In the end this movie is laughably good, a faithful servant of the revenge genre while touching on contemporary issues that themselves torture modern harried young couples.

“Revenge is sweet and not fattening.” Alfred Hitchcock

BTW—I saw this thriller in an AMC Dolby Theater. “B” movie that it is, technology makes it superior viewing of any movie.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at