A single parent, ferrying her son to school, snaps at a truck driver on a congested road and is terrorized by the murderous stranger after their mild altercation.
Road rage. We see or read about it daily. Just the other day, a Mumbai woman slapped a hapless traffic cop. On other occasions, things have gotten uglier, but mercifully, not to the extent depicted in this tense and riveting film adroitly helmed by Derrick Borte.
Allthough she has some inkling when he mows down a helpful stranger, the woman Rachel (Caren Pistorius) doesn't know what she's up against. But the viewer does. A gloomy pre-credits sequence shows us he (Russell Crowe) is an axe-wielding killer and arsonist. Unsurprisingly, he threatens to replicate similar mayhem in the life of the hapless protagonist.
Much of the narrative (written by Carl Ellsworth) plays out on the road, at traffic intersections or mad drives, but what happens indoors — in a cafe or a home, for example — is nerve-racking and brutal. And though the plot is implausible in places — he steals her phone and replaces it with his own — Crowe's character is a full blown psychopath who seems unstoppable; the edge-of-the-seat tension and Borte's empathy for the victims, is both palpable and infectious. The viewer can only root for the protagonist and pray for things to work out.
Do they? Easier said than done. Maybe, just maybe, Rachel should have called the police as suggested by the petrol pump store cashier to whom she reveals her fear of being stalked. Maybe, we'd have got a different movie then.
Or maybe, the cops would have shown up and the psycho would have glibly talked his way out of the situation. As it is, he drives off ever so smoothly just as the cops are rolling in, horns blaring in the aftermath of his mayhem.
As it is, the violence unleashed by this nameless sadistic antagonist is in your face, although viewers are spared the gory sight of the axe murders in the opening scene. One only hears the screams of the victims.
Arguably, no one is safe and the subtext of this film underlines the need for patience and soothing of frayed tempers even as the very contemporary affliction referenced in the opening sentence of this review, threatens to consume more and more lives.
Cast: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Austin P. McKenzie, Lucy Faust,Jimmi Simpson.
Director Derrick Borte
Platform: Zeeplex on Zee5