Rachel has had a hard few years.
A long, drawn-out divorce has left her with piles of emotional baggage. Never-ending work demands exert daily pressure. And her middle-school-aged son, Kyle, is struggling to process his own issues.
It’s a lot. Rachel really doesn’t have the time or capacity to handle much more. Which is why when she’s late dropping her son off at school—courtesy of a man in a large, grey truck who won’t move at a green light. She gets a bit irritated. She lays on the horn a few times.
Seems normal. Understandable.
But not to Tom Cooper.
See, Tom has had a hard few years, too. Long nights at work, substance abuse, his own rough divorce and an ex-wife who took up sleeping with their divorce lawyer have squeezed Tom into a man who isn’t much into letting things go. Even a few honks of a car horn.
Tom tells Rachel this as he drives up next to her window. All he’s looking for is one little apology. But Rachel refuses. After all, she didn’t really do anything wrong.
But that’s not what Tom thinks. And what starts as a rough day for Rachel turns into a nightmarish 24 hours, as Tom Cooper threateningly tells Rachel that she’s about to learn just what a really bad day looks like.
Tom graphically asks Rachel if she is having sex with her friend and lawyer. When she tells him she’s not, Tom continues to berate her, assuming that she is sleeping around. He also makes reference to the fact that his own ex-wife cheated on him with their divorce lawyer.
A young woman wears a crop top.
Tom Cooper is brutal to his core, and he pursues retribution with a vengeance. His appetite for revenge goes far, far beyond merely losing his temper in a bad moment at a stoplight. Indeed, Unhinged is an effective title to describe what happens after Rachel fatefully honks at this broken, violent man.
Tom uncorks his rage throughout the film. He hits an innocent man with a car, repeatedly punches a lawyer and stabs him in the neck (with the bloodied mess caught up close). Tom gets into physical altercations with others, punching and kicking his victims and threatening anyone who stands in his way.
Tom rages on the road, causing many accidents and deaths as cars flip over, explode and are crushed by larger trucks. Tom stalks Rachel, hits her car with his truck and does whatever he can to physically, mentally and emotionally break her down.
Tom kills a young woman by repeatedly stabbing her in the abdomen. He ties a young man to a chair and sets him on fire (the young man survives but his fiancée does not). He tries to strangle a young boy. A man is stabbed in the eye with a pair of scissors (in a scene that is bloody and graphic). Tom kills his a woman and her lover and burns down their home. We see him, from afar, hit the man in the head as blood spurts. And we hear the woman’s screams.
God’s name is misused more than 15 times, often paired with “d–n.” The f-word is used nearly 40 times, and the s-word is heard nearly 20 times. Other profanities include multiple utterances each of “h—,” “p-ss” and “b–ch.”
Tom takes many prescription hydrocodone pills throughout the film, and drinks from a flask. A neighbor says that Tom was known for his substance abuse.
We hear that Rachel’s ex-husband struggled to keep a regular job and preferred to live a selfish lifestyle instead of putting his family first.
A man urinates on himself out of fear and a woman vomits for the same reason. Tom forces another character to write a degrading letter aimed at Rachel.
We’ve all had bad days. Right? But I’m sure for most of us, bad days don’t equal getting stalked by a substance-abusing psychopath who’s bent on killing anyone who makes a wrong move.
Unhinged tells the tale of a man who has had enough. But it does so in the most graphic of ways. This story of road rage run amok unleashes 90 minutes of senseless, vivid violence. Many scenes are torturous to watch—and Tom’s thirst for blood does at times veer into torture.
People are hacked to death, stabbed to death, run over by vehicles and threatened. There are also a handful of references to sex and infidelity. We hear a ton of profane language and watch so many absurdly unrealistic moments that it’s hard to keep up with the act.
Rachel’s admirable love for her son is set in stark contrast to the evil ways of Russel Crowe’s Tom Cooper. But that isn’t saying much.
We also witness news clips reporting that issues with mental health are skyrocketing and, as a result, so is needless violence. This same news clip shows people being harmed in the streets. Perhaps this could be seen as a feeble attempt to frame this story as a kind of morality tale for our angry age.
Mostly, though, we just see a lot of anger. And not much in the way of morality in this blood-drenched psycho-thriller.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).