It’s Okay To Splurge On ‘The Purge’ (Movie Review)

The Purge Movie Poster TNEvery so often an idea or a treatment comes across that’s so ludicrous and insane that you just can’t help wondering if it can be properly pulled off and executed, I don’t want to say flawlessly, but let’s loosely use the word skillfully for the time being.  The Purge just so happens to be one of those movies that caught my eye as of late, well rather my girlfriend’s, but I was the one who reluctantly signed up for the brutality and punishment here within so let the games begin.  Err…I mean The Purge.  You see, The Purge is an annual 12-hour period from evening to morning, in the not so distant future, during which ALL CRIME is legal and emergency services are suspended and non-responsive.    Yep.  You read that right…and I repeat…ALL CRME IS LEGAL…murder, rape, theft…you name it.  See!  I told you this concept sounded ludicrous, but I’d be the first to admit that I was hellbent curious to see how this would work and play out on the big screen.  The believability aspect and suspension of disbelief are two things I take very seriously in my films.  So here we are.  Let’s get down to business.  What say you?  The Purge

The film is directed and written by James DeMonaco.  And guess who one of the producers is…none other than Michael Bay.  Go figure!  In addition to the head Transformers honcho, Jason Blum, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller and Sebastien Kurt Lemercier also wear production hats here.  And I’m a huge Ethan Hawke (Sinister, Training Day) fan so I’m stoked to see him in the leading role here in addition to his sometimes stunning (depending upon the particular role) leading lady, Lena Headey (300, Game of Thrones), and fellow co-stars Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield and Tony Oller.

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So as I was saying before, The Purge takes place in the not so distant future, calendar year 2022, where it appears that things are booming and have never been better for the good old US of A.  The nation is prospering with unemployment rates at an astonishing 1%.  Crime is also in check and at all-time low levels.  So how does our government sustain these numbers and keep this the new status quo?  Well, I’m glad you asked because that’s exactly why they created The Purge.  In its simplest of terms, The Purge is nothing more than an annual 12-hour period the government created that commences at 7 pm until 7 am, where I repeat…ALL CRIMINAL ACTIVITY is LEGAL.  I can’t stress that enough.  Haha.  During this 12-hour window police and hospitals suspend all assistance and services.  Now stop me right there and tell me this doesn’t sound absurd.  It’s okay.  Go ahead and do it.  So where was I?  Oh yeah!  The Purge!  Through the government’s eyes, they see it as a way for people to blow off steam once a year and channel/vent all their negativity and violent desires they may be holding in however they wish.  The ultimate goal again is to preserve the unemployment rate where it’s at and keep crime at all time low levels for the rest of the rolling calendar year.  Now I don’t know about you, but this sure sounds like a justification for The Justice League to be around or something, does it not?

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Now with all the who, what, when, where, why and how out of the way, we are finally free to discuss the story that involves James Sandin (Hawke) and his family during the annual night of The Purge.  I guess you can say James and family take the annual night of murder and mayhem very seriously as they have one hell of a stupendously fortified home.  Wow!  They should have nothing to worry about then, right?  Wrong (buzzer sound)!  There’s the little thing in your mind called morals or as I like to call them scruples.  What if on this so called dangerous night a man, who looks innocent enough, comes knocking on your door seeking protection?  Would you let him in or would you let him get slaughtered by his pursuers outside?  Tough one, huh?  So what’s Mr. Sandin supposed to do now that his son let a wanted man into their house without his permission and/or knowledge?  And let’s add on some stakes or a.k.a. drama as I like to call it.  Let’s say there’s an angry lynch mob outside who tell you to kindly release the stranger over to them or else they will break in and kill the entire family for helping to protect him.  Do you go against what you know is to be wrong and hand the man over to be murdered?  Do you even trust the visitors outside that they will honor their word and not cause any harm to your family?  Or do you simply stick to your moral code, protect the innocent man’s life plus that of your family’s, and thwart off the evil outside at all costs?  And believe me, there’s a lot more that I’m not even telling you to ensure I stay completely clear of any spoilers.  Now do you see why The Purge is such a titillating flick that begs to be seen?  I clearly do after writing all that.  So how’s the actual film?  Now that’s the million dollar question we are all here for today.

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Sadly enough, after all the hype I put you through up above, The Purge to me was just simply a meh.  I’m happy I’ve seen it and glad it wasn’t a complete bust, but at the end of the day I just wanted so much more satisfaction that I didn’t get.  However, truth be told, we all knew this wasn’t going to be an Oscar film, right?  And I’ll be honest, I have a lot of trouble getting past this concept that a so called “Purge” cannot only exist in even a fictitious US society, but also accomplish all the things it was designed to foster and promote.  There’s no doubt that the stakes are high, but the movie’s pace excels and unravels so quickly that just when you have that edge of your seat adrenaline rush overcoming you it’s completely cut off faster than Short Round can yell Dr. Jones.  It’s like blowing up a balloon with all that hard work and effort you put forth in accomplishing the task and letting the air out without any restraint or prior notice, really for no reason at all.  Sure I’m exaggerating a bit, but the twist in the story takes a rather predictable tumble and the originality of the concept quickly dissolves into something no more meaningful than a sequel to The Strangers, but I digress.  Maybe it’s just me and my bullish nature that I can’t completely buy into this ridiculous concept.  I like a lot of things that were done, but I just don’t feel the filmmakers fully delivered on the proof of concept, which was downright original on one hand and completely insane on the other.

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If you’re an Ethan Hawke fan, go see this.  This guy continues to impress me at the box office, not that he puts up big numbers, but because this guy truly delivers a great performance each time out.  He has kind of a Kevin Bacon like quality to him.  I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that my boy’s the new Terminator, but I’ll save that for another day.  Hawke doesn’t go at it alone.  He has a great supporting cast behind him and a Jokeresque villain (you’ll get it when you see it) to oppose.  Maybe that’s why I stayed in the game so long.  I truly was interested in the theme/morals/scruples of the movie and what decisions the characters would ultimately follow (wanting to see if I was right).  While I mentioned its predictability above, I neglected to say how involved I was in this family’s plight/struggle and the visceral tale of do unto others how you would want done unto you that The Purge tragically paints on its dirty canvas.  I’m pretty confident that moviegoers and fans of the horror genre will eat this one up.  Considering the film’s low budget, from the producer of The Paranormal Activity and Sinister (you get where I’m going with this here), I don’t think this one will have any trouble making that up two or three fold.

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So while I chalk this up as a win for the filmmakers, I want you to ask yourself a question.  Can you buy into the concept of a Purge in modern day or even a future society?  And if so, do you prefer butter or no butter on your popcorn?  The Purge is worth checking out as long as you are not expecting anything Earth shattering or mind blowing.  It’s a no-brainer, non-sensical romp in the dark with your date grasping you tight.  That’s who these movies are designed for, right?  The female audience!  Come on guys.  You already knew that!  The Purge opens everywhere today and I guess what I’m saying in a long about way is don’t be scared.  It’s truly okay to “splurge” on The Purge.  I predict everyone else is going to be doing it.  You should too!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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