Coming Unhinged

Is it my imagination, or are we all a little more on the edge these days? More prone to take offence at slights, to feel anger, when in times past we would have ignored the incident?

Is it the pandemic? Or was society drifting that way anyway, and now it is more noticeable?

I was asking myself these questions while watching Unhinged on a flight from Zurich to Monteal. You can see the effect of the pandemic in the in-flight movie offerings. Tenet, which I watched in January, was still on the list, and this one came out last August. I guess there aren’t many new films available.

My in-flight movie watching frequently involves choices I won’t make under other circumstances. Which perhaps is why I watched Unhinged right to the end.

I am not opposed to depictions of violence that serve a purpose. In Unhinged though, much of the gore was unnecessary. The same emotions could have been conveyed without the carnage.

That said, Russell Crowe’s performance as a man who has snapped is riveting. Perhaps a little over the top at times, but for the most part very believable. This is a portrait of a man who has lost touch with not only he reason to live, but with reality itself. 

The story is about the after-effects of road rage, which, admit it, you have felt yourself from time to time. If you are like me, you don’t follow through on the impulse. But what if someone did? That’s what Unhinged is all about. People are going to die before this one is finished. A lot of them.

Caren Pistorius, an actress I must admit I am unfamiliar with, does a credible job as Rachel – though the role is a rather narrow one. Perhaps her character is manipulated too easily, but that was essential to the plot, so I’ll forgive the portrayal. After all, Rachel isn’t the brightest to start with.

Once the confrontation that drives the rest of the movie takes place, events unfold in a very predictable fashion. There’s nothing really new in this plot – but there is so much noise the filmakers are gambling you won’t notice.

What would society look like if we acted on our emotions? Do you think it would be a better place? Neither do I. It definitely isn’t in Unhinged.

My first thought was that the world really isn’t that bleak, that the plot line went a little too far. But Crowe, by making his character believeable, brings you into the story. His portrayal of a man over the edge is powerful enough to convince you that this is real.

How big an issue is road rage in our society? I don’t know. But this is more than a film about a driving incident that went wrong.

Unhinged is about alienation, from other humans and society. There seems to be a disconnect between our self-realization and acknowledging the humanity of others. We’ve seen it in politics perhaps most blatantly, but it carries over into other areas of society too. 

How do we bring people together, how do we build bridges rather than burn them? No-one in Unhinged seems to have a clue.

This is yet another film which has some big questions underlying it, but offers a very narrow worldview that makes solutions impossible. No-one seems the slightest bit aware that the answers they need can be found in a relationship with God.

In other words, it’s typical Hollywood fare.

Good to watch when you are on a plane perhaps, but Unhinged does not really offer anything of substance.

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