Courtesy Tappin’

Unhinged blames a lot of things for The Man’s (Russell Crowe) seething anger. Actually, it blames nearly everything: social media, protests, political divisions, income inequality, and stress, plus others. Whatever raises tensions and allows people to shutdown and close off the outside world, or make every slight seem insurmountable, it’s the problem.

What Unhinged says and what it does are different things though. It’s not a Tweet sending Crowe’s unnamed character (credits list him only as The Man) into a fury. It’s not even the roadside slight he receives from newly single mom Rachel (Caren Pistorius).

Unhinged just asks us to be nicer to one another

No, it’s the seedy culture where men place themselves on pedestals, and forums where guys gather to blame women for their problems. Misogynistic, men’s rights alpha male types who, like Crowe, sit high in their loud trucks, compensating for their lack of success. Unhinged treats this thematically and visually as Crowe towers over his victim who drives an aging station wagon, always eclipsed by Crowe’s beastly machine.

By the end, Unhinged just asks us to be nicer to one another. This is case where not even an apology works, nor would it. Some people exist in a violent bubble, believing themselves superior. Crowe’s divorced, slighted character can’t let anything go, or allow a woman to win.

While still flawed in allowing logic gaps – Rachel makes glaringly stupid decisions at times – Unhinged utilizes technology in a smart way. One of modern cinema’s joys is reveling in how screenwriters sidestep smart phones as an easy out. Unhinged instead relies on it, arguing against a connected life; rather than save Rachel, location tracking and personal info are used against her, deriving stellar tension as she’s outsmarted via her own devices.

At only 80-minutes, outside of the well-crafted social commentary, Unhinged doesn’t shy from formula. A few characters exist merely as a means to up the body count, nothing else. One survives, but matters so little, they never appear again on screen. Set-up dialog focuses primarily on obvious foreshadowing. Unhinged wastes nothing. That said, it’s consistently capable. Pacing doesn’t allow for lulls, and in staging its villain, ensures this brute cares nothing for consequences. In another step to defy tech’s illusion of safety, Crowe murders someone in a busy diner. Loudly. Patrons have phones out. They record it all. There’s no fear on Crowe’s face though, just an outburst of reckless rage.


Cool tones coat Unhinged’s visuals. There’s not much energy in the color saturation, blues a dominant force. Flesh tones reduce to a pale hue. Primaries relent their control. Contrast falters too, smothered by grading, and rarely prominent.

Other than a few intended moments (notably the opening), noise doesn’t factor in. Lionsgate’s encode maintains clarity, utterly transparent to a digitally-sourced movie. In the midst of action, the occasional lapse happens, clearly a smaller, more versatile camera used for those complex shots. Each is too brief to cause alarm.

Stable resolution brings detail in full, cleanly rendered. Resolved facial detail impresses, and given how Unhinged relies on tight close-ups, that matters. Exteriors look great too, naturally sharp and rich in definition.


Atmos design lifts the frequently small scale action by generating power in the low-end. Crowe’s truck engine creates a steady and impressive rumble, overpowering things in a smart way. There’s a spectacular explosion in the beginning, stretching range. Some hefty collisions likewise make use of the low-end.

Debris fields and city ambiance play nicely, separating audio to create a convincing soundstage. Cars pan between channels with total precision. Heavy traffic means car horns popping up in each speaker. There’s nothing inherently special, just competent, pleasing material.


A production commentary invites director Derrick Borte, cinematographer Brendan Galvin, producer Freddy Waff, and costume designer Denise Wingate into the booth. Then, a 27-minute making-of that’s better than expected, diving into the process as well as the themes.

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While typical in its thriller format, Unhinged finds the means to stand out by involving modern social issues in a smart way.

User Review
4 (1 vote)

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