Unhinged (2020)

I’m well aware of my big flaw when it comes to reviewing: all of it is down to personal taste. So if a film is impressive, but for whatever reason just doesn’t grab me, I won’t review it favourably (and conversely, if a film is technically awful, but I have a soft spot for it, I’ll review it favourably). They’ll be some films I negatively review because they just didn’t gel with me. Keep that in mind when I talk about how much I disliked this film.

I get some people will like this, it’s a pulpy violent throwback full of well-crafted but realistic car chases. It just wasn’t for me. It might have been fun if I was drunk, or I could have just found it super depressing. Before I start this I’ll point out that the performances are all good, there is absolutely nothing any of the actors could have done to improve on it So why didn’t I like it? Hard to explain, it could be how, despite being only 90 minutes long, I spent a long time looking at my watch. It could be how, outside of the main character, you didn’t care about anybody. There at least 3 characters who have two scenes:

Scene one: the character gets introduced.

Scene two: the character gets killed.

I’m not asking for an essay-level of detail on every minor character, but I need to at least feel like these characters exist outside of this film, and I never felt like that, I was always constantly aware that these are just characters in a movie.

I guess my main problem with this film is it’s just so ugly. Not in terms of look, in terms of spirit and world. It’s all just so relentlessly cruel.

I haven’t seen anything this despairingly ugly since I last looked in the mirror. The “happy ending” of this film is basically the main character letting people do whatever they want and she will just stay quiet. Yay, she’s scared and won’t ever stand up for herself, yay?

It’s not a story, it’s just a bunch of stuff happening one after the other. It’s far too dependent on luck. If characters don’t do the exact thing that they do, there is no film. If the police aren’t as stupid as they are, there’s no film. If bystanders do, well, anything, there’s no film. Again, this all builds together so you never really lose yourself in the film, you’re constantly aware that it’s fiction. It doesn’t help that it never builds up to anything, it starts with him burning someone’s house down and killing them, how can you increase upon that? He doesn’t even change his car until the final act, with all the cameras around, he never gets pulled over by the police? That’s kind of the case for a lot of this film though, it depends on only the main characters being active in the plot. If they’re not a named character, they don’t do anything. So even when Russell Crowe strangles someone with their own tie in a diner, nobody in the building does anything. It’s America, you’d think at least one of them would have a gun. Plus, it’s a diner, so there’s enough knives around, or even things you can just pick up and hit him with. Also, the diner scene happens after Crowe’s character has:

  1. Burned down a house in full view of the neighbourhood.
  2. Run someone over outside of a petrol station.

He parks his vehicle outside the diner and just sits in there for quite a while. Definitely long enough for the police (who really should be searching for him) to spot it and drive there to arrest him. It’s just incredibly narratively frustrating. Especially since there probably is a way to do this, but this film couldn’t be bothered.

All I can say about this film to end this review is this: Nicholas Cage turned it down. That shows the level we’re dealing with.

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