The Purge – Go Primal Or Go Home – Review

purgeUINIVERSAL

Photo Courtesy Universal

It’s 2022 and America is experiencing amazing prosperity, low unemployment and virtually no crime, but all of it comes at a price.  For a single 12-hour period each year, people are allowed to commit any crime they wish without a penalty (not accounting for the crimes or arresting people usually does decrease the crime rate).

It’s supposed to give people a chance to purge their rage, and James Standin (Ethan Hawke) has made a ton of money from rich people who purchase his security systems because they have something to lose when others start looking to vent anger and resentment (Donald Trump would have to hide out on a secluded, unknown, unmapped island to avoid all of the people who want to vent on him).

Yet, as the purge begins, there is one weakness in Standin’s security system, and it’s about to be exploited in the worst way possible against his family.

I have to admit, some of my preconceptions about The Purge were wrong.  At first glance, the plot seems to suggest this is yet another gore fest or sick wish fulfillment movie all about the blood and violence, which the audience would be cheering for as it got nastier and nastier.

However, writer/director James DeMonaco makes a movie that deplores instead of glorifies violence.  Sure, he tries to throw in a bunch of themes.  We get some stuff about The Haves and The Have Nots, as well as some allusions to the masses engaging in irrational behavior within the safety and the context of a group.

But, like you were sitting at a Hollywood party with Pauly Shore discussing gun control or Paris Hilton pontificating on the plight of the poor, these massive thoughts and themes are just kind of mentioned in passing to make the movie sound smart, but ultimately, have no depth.  There’s a true lack of exploration.

The script doesn’t present many acting challenges, so Hawke and the cast don’t need to start booking flights to Hollywood for Oscar week.  Some of the bit players express a little too much ridiculous glee during the violent parts and others ham it up a bit as the raging buttoned up types who are excited to go all primal.

Sadly, all of this leads to The Purge running out of steam towards the end.  He does a decent job in some scenes of creating the anticipation of something horrible happening, which raises the tension levels, but, without enough material to fill out an entire feature length motion picture, DeMonaco has to add a whole new twist to extend the movie past the natural ending point.

Worst of all, the crowd I saw the movie with seemed disappointed by the lack of gratuitous violence and the beefed up presence of real moral choices and stuff that made you think.  They started to turn on each other, which almost led to a frightening purge right there at the Cineplex!

2waffles_sml2 Waffles (Out of 4)

The Purge is rated R for strong disturbing violence and some language.

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2 comments

  • Carcotas

    From the producers of Paranormal Activity (as is all horror films these days) The Purge tells the story of a near future were crime is at an all time low and unemployment stands at under 1% of the US population, to compensate for one night a year all crime (including murder) is legal for 12 hours allowing society some kind of release.

    The film revolves around the Sandin family who are confronted by a group of college students hunting a man on the night of the Purge who the family had allowed into their home after lockdown. The Purgers (lead by Rhys Wakefield) drastically try to break into the family's home causing James (Ethan Hawke) and Mary (Lena Headey) to protect their children from the invaders in order to survive the night.

    The main problem with the film is the premise itself, whilst interesting is filled with flaws and holes that just make the whole idea ridiculous. Such as what happens to the serial killers and career criminals of this world? Do they just control their urges to kill or steal for the other 364 days until the next Purge, as well what if someone has a heart attack on the night of The Purge? Is it just a case of bad luck you chose the wrong night to need medical care?

    Despite the flaws of the premise, the film repeatedly ignores the possibilities of the premise, instead of exploring the ideas behind the Purge or the events that occur on the night of the Purge from different perspectives and situations. Instead the film settles for a typical home invasion story that although done well, is nothing we haven't seen done in many other films. The Purge in the end seems to only be the premise of this film to stop the age old question of "Why don't they just call the police?" in home invasion films.

    To the films credit it is quite subtle, there's a running theme that the Purge is just an excuse for the upper classes to exterminate the poor, driven by all the attackers wearing prep school blazers and the person they are chasing wearing dog tags around his neck. The film also contains some strong performances, especially from Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Lord of War) and Lena Headey (Dredd, Game of Thrones) who carry the film throughout. The film also has a twist near the end which allows the audience to get inside the heads of the people during this night.

    That cant be said for the leader of the Purger's played by Rhys Wakefield (Sanctum, Home and Away)whose performance is slightly cringe worthy, hes trying to be psychotic yet in control of the proceedings but it just comes across as a amateur dramatics' version of The Joker. He just never seems like a really threat and just a creepy next door neighbour.

    The film also contains some bizarre and just plain weird set pieces, such as the families' son who builds a spy camera on a chard baby doll on the top of a rhino tank from Warhammer 40,000. The thing looks like a demented contraption from Sid's bedroom in Toy Story.

    Overall, The Purge is an OK home invasion film, there are moments of suspense and a couple of jump scares are effective. The wasted potential of the premise is the films main downfall which could have lead to a more effective and possible original film then what we got in the end.

    More about the movie you can also find it here http://movieinfodb.com/en/movie/158015/The+Purge-