Road rage-style films have been around for decades. One of the most popular was ‘Duel’, director Steven Spielberg’s first film. Others such as ‘Road Kill’ and the Australian movie ‘Road Games’ offered variations on the ‘killer on the road’ theme. ‘Unhinged’ is in the same vein, proving once again to always be careful on life’s dark, deadly highways.

Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is a divorced single mother trying to carve out a new life. Trouble ensues when she becomes involved in a road rage incident with unstable stranger Tom (Russell Crowe). Developing a disturbing fixation with her, Tom goes to great lengths to torment his prey in a psychological battle of wills.

‘Unhinged’ follows a basic formula walking a predictable path. Whilst this thriller doesn’t have a lot of true depth, Derrick Borte’s direction effectively ramps up the requisite tension. He differentiates ‘Unhinged’ from similar films by having the chases in an urban environment. This adds to the claustrophobic feeling Rachel feels as she battles Tom’s increasingly twisted psychosis.

Themes of how current society can break an easily fractured mind provides interest. Very much like the Michael Douglas film ‘Falling Down’ in that respect, ‘Unhinged’ explores a little in how far someone goes in pushing against everyday pressures. This is quickly discarded halfway through to allow Crowe to deliver his best ‘eye-rolling baddie’ impersonation, which is full of brute force and one he clearly relishes. Pistorius is a good foil and offers an authentic counter-balance to Crowe’s often ridiculously over the top performance.

Unlike ‘Unhinged’ mentally disturbed antagonist, the film doesn’t outstay its welcome. Borte runs a tight ship within its no-frills timeframe. Although it may be strange calling ‘Unhinged’ ‘fun viewing’, it’s an exciting cinematic carnival ride more preferable than being stuck with Crowe’s dangerously warped character.

Rating out of 10: 7


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