Written & Directed
It is the year 2022 and a once every year, for a 12-hour period, Americans are allowed to "purge" themselves of any pent up anger, rage, resentment and violence on any other the person they want. You can kill anyone for any reason. You can perform any deplorable, violent, raucous act as long as it is during this 12-hour time frame. The country has a one percent unemployment rate and crime is at an all time low, except for this one night of the year. This is the main concept and selling point of James DeMonaco's The Purge, a lackluster, near horrible film that envisions a futuristic America that seems completely impossible, irresponsible and unrealistic.
I am sorry, but this movie stinks. Right within the first couple of minutes and during the security camera recorded opening credits where people were violently murdering other people, I was ready to stop watching this pile of garbage. Actually, I am not sorry. The whole concept of this film seems so outlandish and the fact that anyone can kill anyone just because they do not like them is completely ridiculous and disgusting. You could kill a baby just because you do not like the way the baby looks or because, lets say, your family could not have one. You could kill an innocent homeless man or somebody that is an everyday working woman, just because you do not like the fact they are homeless or because you are lazy, unsuccessful and do not work, and are jealous of the hard working woman. Oh my gosh. There are so many irrational ideas and obvious questions that arise while I watched this film, but DeMonaco attempted to turn this film into a suspenseful thriller and failed miserably.
The film centers on the Sandin family. The patriarch James (Ethan Hawke), is a successful security salesman. He sales systems that insulate and protect people from the "purge." He and his family have an enormous house and security sales have been good for them. He has a wife Mary (Lena Headey), a daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and a young, inquisitive son Charlie (Max Burkholder). The kids question the validity of this gruesome night that was created by the "New Founding Fathers" and Charlie sets the action in motion when, during the so-called festivities, he sees a man (Edwin Hodge) running for his life from a group of masked purgers and disarms the house and allows him in. The scene is absurd in the convenient effects of the steel door that protects the family on this night takes forever to come down and the man slides in at the last second. Stupid and overdone way to add a little suspense, but I suppose this film needed all the action and help it could find.
The group chases this man, who is nothing more than a homeless veteran. He is wearing dog tags, but if they are his or he stole them we are not told. The group, led by a psychopathic prep school looking blonde haired teenager (Rhys Wakefield), explains that either the Sandin's let the man out or they will break-in and kill not only the man, but the Sandin's family as well. Blah, blah, blah. Guess what, they get in. If the security system, which I am sure is highly expensive and should be unbreakable can be pulled down by a couple of high powered Dodge trucks, then how good is it really? James Sandin has sold it to everyone in the neighborhood as well. I believe the system should be so well-made that it is impenetrable, but undoubtedly not.
The film goes on and on. It is roughly about 90 minutes, thankfully, but it still felt too long. The concept is void of going in better, more thought provoking directions. Why not focus on everyday citizens that are not filthy rich. The film focuses on the wealthy Sandin's and the rich neighbors and neighborhood they live in. The neighbors are jealous of the Sandin's, as we see in the hours before the "purge" and these issues come back later in the film. Also, earlier, the boyfriend of Zoey sneaks in to the house after the house in armed with these big steel faces. The house as so many cameras that you would think they would notice if someone broke in. Come on. How many films do we have to see young lovers break in to spend the night. Another overdone concept in a film full of repetitiveness. Nothing new or original.
Nothing about this film was intriguing to me at all. Everything from the music to Jacques Jouffret's cinematography was dull and rote. Felt very staged. The direction of the film that DeMonaco took it in as a somewhat veiled commentary on an ultra conservative America was boring and then turning the film into another placid home invasion thriller was lacking in thought and creativity. The acting was as good as it could be, but Hawke is better than this crap. He was serviceable, but nothing interesting about him or his character at all. And the leader of the psychopathic group Wakefield was devilish at times and contained an eerie "Joker-ish" smile, but seemed like another creep in a mask. Why did the "New Founding Fathers" do this and what was the history behind this "purge?" Questions unanswered and a film that you need not waste your time on. Easily one of the worst of the year, but no surprise there.
Photo credit by ropeofsilicon.com.