Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence and Offensive Language
Ethan Hawke as James Sandin
Lena Headey as Mary Sandin
Adelaide Kane as Zoe Sandin
Max Burkholder as Charlie Sandin
Edwin Hodge as The Stranger
Tony Oller as Henry
Director: James DeMonaco
In 2022, the United States of America celebrates once a year “The Purge”, a 12-hour period when any crime is allowed including murder. The result is an economical growth and society free of homeless, sick and unproductive persons. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a successful salesman that sells security systems for the houses. He lives with his wife Mary (Lena Headey) and his teenage son Charlie (Max Burkholder) and daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) in a house in the suburb. During the purge, James seals his house, however, Charlie sees a stranger (Edwin Hodge) fleeing from a group that is hunting him down and he disarms the security device and lets the man in. But the leader of the group (Rhys Wakefield) gives an ultimatum to James: if he does not deliver the man to the group, they would kill the whole family.
At first glance, The Purge seems interesting, with the purge aspect potentially leading to an interesting plot if it’s handled right, however in this case it isn’t. These two elements are a bad mix which end up with an absurd and at times stupid movie with a badly written plot.
The biggest flaw I feel is the actual idea behind the purge everyone says that the purge works but I just don’t get it. The way that many people on some news screens talk about, they seem to say that the reason crime exists is that we have to ‘release the beast’ that’s inside of us. I also can’t get how having a 12 hour crime free time works and everyone is going by the honours system and not committing any crimes. Another big flaw is that you can tell that this film could be a home invasion movie without this purge aspect, in fact it would’ve been better. They also take this thing seriously, if it was satire I could see how it would work but that’s not the case. Even the pacing isn’t that good. The first act isn’t interesting at all and the second act of the movie is the family looking for this one homeless guy with no tension. The characters make very stupid decisions, like when the daughter runs off further into the house when the lights go out (when the family should stay together). The villains are also just over the top goofy, they are just dancing and mucking around in front of the camera for about half of the movie and are apparently supposed to be ‘creepy’. I do wonder why they are focussing on getting this one guy, they have 12 hours to do pretty much do what they want but this guy is apparently so worth their attention. When they finally get into the house they become quite possibly the dumbest house invaders ever by just messing around. This film’s plot really does deconstruct itself and is one of the worst attempts at being smart.
Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey do the best with what they have in this movie, however the kids weren’t that great. There is one redeeming aspect of this movie which is Rhys Wakefield as the leader of the gang. He tries so hard to act evil and his hammy performance is at least entertaining to watch.
On the technical side, The Purge doesn’t really have any problems. The shots are well set up, the lighting is effective, and soundtrack is fine, but it isn’t enough to take away the flaws of the story.
The Purge is a failed attempt at a cross between a smart film and a home invasion movie. The film is well shot and the soundtrack is fine but besides that, this movie didn’t work at all. The characters are poorly written and its very premise is flawed. I’ve heard that its sequel is better so at some point I’ll give it a chance but I can’t imagine it being that much better this film.