Actors, have I got an audition monologue for you!
Let’s set the scene: The world is crumbling, there’s violence in the streets and you’re a sadsack peon who’s led a meaningless life. So one day, you decide, “I give up,” and go on a bloody rampage through the city. Got it? Here are your lines.
“Every effort, every sacrifice I’ve ever made in my invisible life, has been dismissed and judged and ignored. I’ve been chewed up, used up and spat out. So I think, f - - kin’ Fred, I’ll make my contribution this way: through violence and retribution. ‘Cause that’s all I got left.”
That juicy steak of a speech — so dripping with drama that even Shonda Rhimes couldn’t dream it up — is spoken by Russell Crowe in the absolutely insane new revenge thriller “Unhinged.” And, boy, is he!
Early in the film, Rachel (Caren Pistorius), who’s having a lousy morning, makes the unfortunate error of cutting off Crowe’s character, known as The Man, in traffic.
“That’s where we are in this world today,” the rage-filled driver lectures when she pulls over. “We seem to have developed a fundamental inability to apologize to anyone for anything.” Then the crazed lunatic stalks her, steals her phone, tracks down her loved ones and executes them. Impalings, incinerations: It’s a buffet of brutality. Rachel’s only goal is to protect her young son, Kyle.
Crowe, who’s not exactly known as a pacifist, is the ideal man to play The Man. Even at 56, the guy looks like he could send anyone racing to the ER, and as an actor he never reaches for anger or pushes to reinvent himself. His performance as a nameless, blood-thirsty psychopath comes disturbingly natural.
As the horror genre has, in recent years, grown more sophisticated and clever, you heave a sigh of relief to be handed a thriller that’s so dumb. There are lots of laughs at the gruesome deaths and a few solid shocks in director Derrick Borte’s film. But look elsewhere for nuanced psychoanalysis or spirited political debate. And while, I grant you, the man-forgotten-by-society bit conjures Willy Loman, it’s more like “Death of a Salesman 2: Attention Must Be Slayed.”