(director: Derek Borte; screenwriter: Carl Ellsworth; cinematographer: Brendan Galvin; editors: Michael McCusker, Steve Mirkovich, Tim Mirkovich; music: David Buckley; cast: Russell Crowe (Tom Cooper), Caren Pistorius (Rachel), Gabriel Bateman (Kyle), Jimmi Simpson (Andy), Austin P. McKenzie (Fred); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Lisa Ellzey, Mark Gill, Andrew Gunn; Solstice Studios; 2020)
“It’s not worth the risk of seeing it in a theater during a pandemic, not only for your physical health but also for your mental health.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The first major post-lockdown release going into theaters is literally unhinged. It’s not worth the risk of seeing it in a theater during a pandemic, not only for your physical health but also for your mental health. The B-film is being distributed by the start-up studio Solstice as an over-the-top violent road-rage film. It’s competently directed in a formulaic way by the German-born Derek Borte (“The Joneses”/”American Dreamer”) but weakly scripted by Carl Ellsworth (“Red Eye”). It entertains you with killings by knife, hammer, fire and pickup truck. Excuse me if those gory scenes failed to entertain me, while the rest of the poorly paced film only unhinged me further in a grim way.
We’re in New Orleans (even if the city is not named), where an intense Tom Cooper (Russell Crowe), an opioid pill-popper who just lost his job before he’s eligible for a pension, is in the early morning hours in an orderly fashion murdering and incinerating his cheating ex-wife and her new lover in their home–which was his home.
Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is a harried single mom, a hairdresser, in the middle of a nasty divorce that takes all her energy, and she’s also upset with her deadbeat house-guests–her brother (Austin P. McKenzie ) and his girlfriend (Jimmi Simpson) sponging off her. She’s rushing to drop off her teenage son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman) to school in time, after oversleeping. The impatient driver loudly honks her horn at the driver in front of her, who is driving a Ford pick-up truck and not moving after the traffic light turns green. It seems Rachel made a mistake in honking loudly and not with just a gentle tap. She picked the wrong driver to do this to and then when he comes to her car window to politely ask her to apologize and she refuses to. The driver is the homicidal psychopath Tom and he’s now in a rage, as he steals her cell phone and plans to make her bad day worse by killing those on her telephone list.
When she flees in her old Volvo, a well produced stunt driver car chase through the city streets ensues.
The film serves as a public service message that there are a lot of sickos in this country and road-rage has produced a lot of vics, and you should always be cautious on the road because you never know when you run into one of those wackos (just think of how good this plot device was used in the classic road-rage film “Duel”).
The vile action-packed film is what it is, a commercial venture that prays it can get enough eyeballs to pay to see such a misogynistic pic and recoup its high budget finances. The Gladiator Oscar winning actor, overweight and not looking fit like a star should, might make for a grand sadist, but this pic is so distasteful that the only award he might get is for playing the year’s most gross character.
REVIEWED ON 8/30/2020 GRADE: C –