The Purge – Film Review
2 weeks since my last film review?
Damn you, good television.
Well, apart from Glee.
TL;DR The Purge fails to live up to the premise it sets out, but is an otherwise competent home invasion thriller. It’s a shame the “twists” are all so obviously signposted. 2 out of 5 stars.
Yeah, I’m jaded.
The plot’s premise is pretty adorably fantastic: in the near future, America is saved from the breakdown of society by an aggressive police-state government. But on one night a year, every citizen can commit any crime they want (except killing the president or using doomsday weapons. Natch) without any retribution. The theory being that if people are allowed to “purge,” then they can release their frustrations in a controlled manner. Ethan Hawke is the father of a 4-part family who, like many of the affluent, choose to bunker down and not participate in the Purge. He has the support of his wife, Lena Headey, and their 2 teenage children. Things get awkward when the daughter’s boyfriend tries to kill Ethan. Things get more awkward when the son notices and saves a homeless man fleeing a lynchmob, to the ire of said lynchmob. Ethan struggles with the morality of handing the man over to secure his family, but ends up doing the right thing. The family resist the invaders, but are almost annihilated. Their rich bitch neighbours save them, but end up wanting to kill the family themselves. The homeless man comes to Lena’s rescue (Ethan is killed by the lynchmob leader), and Lena chooses the path of non-violence, forcing her cunt neighbours to live with what they tried to do.
She better arm herself for next year, though. Sequel idea?
I’d been interested in the premise of The Purge, but some middling reviews had me worried.
And yes, the scope has the potential to be so huge, and it’s disappointing that it narrows down to the very fine point it does.
But I don’t believe The Purge ever had illusions of being some grandiose political and social statement. It’s just a tight, well cast thriller with an excellent backdrop.
Why I hate this movie:
The teenage daughter is unbelievably annoying. A large part of the first half of the movie is devoted to trying to “find” her as she scurries around the house. First of all, I know you guys are reasonably upper middle class, but your house isn’t fucking Buckingham Palace. It shouldn’t be that hard to find her. Second of all, bitch, stop running around.
Also, the home’s defence systems are stupidly easy for the lynchmob to break down. You’d think they’d at least have, like, a secondary panic room or something inside the house. All the lynchmob has to do to get inside is pull the shutters off with a truck. Come on.
The daughter’s boyfriend is a fucking douchebag. Yeah, I’m sure your girlfriend will be real impressed when you kill her dad because he mildly disapproves of you. Maybe he’s supposed to be an example of what a Purge society could make you think, but his case is isolated and arbitrary. The classist lynchmob is much more efficient at making that statement.
Rhys Wakefield seems wasted in the role of head lynchmobber.
The 3 big twists are too predictable. As soon as the daughter’s boyfriend stayed in the house after lockdown, it was super obvious he was going to try killing Ethan. The neighbours not really being their saviours was clear from the barely contained passive aggression that blonde bitch showed in her early scene. And as satisfying as it would have been, there was no way that Lena was going to massacre her neighbours.
The son is an idiot for letting the homeless guy in. Both because he was clearly running from someone, and also, like, he could have been a killer, too.
Oh, and to be honest, they really should have just straight up handed him over to the lynchmob. It’s motherfucking Purge night. These guys are not going to kid around.
But it’s not all bad:
While I still hold that The Purge isn’t trying to be a socially critical super ponderence, it isn’t shallow. The Purge is rationally contextualised in that it has reduced unemployment rates so much because the homeless and delinquent are easy Purge targets. It’s also said that other countries are still suffering economic and social death, while America, queen of Purging, is flourishing. ‘Murica.
Ethan kicks fucking arse once he starts taking down the lynchmobbers. For Mr Pacifist, he knows his way around a shotgun.
The daughter gets to take down Rhys, and it feels so good. It’s a shame she didn’t get there in time to save her father.
Although Rhys Wakefield deserves better than this, he makes an excellent villain. He is initially cordial to the family (even quickly executing a ruder colleague of his), but the underlying crazy doesn’t take long to shine through. He and his crew’s motivation is sickeningly fabulous: they’re upper class little brats who just love to round up some homeless victims. Debauched.
Ethan totally wastes the daughter’s boyfriend. I lol’d.
I love that Lena forces her homicidal neighbours to sit quietly at her table while they count down the minutes to the Purge’s end. The blonde, bitchy one is thoroughly unimpressed.
Lena’s understanding with the homeless guy is also heartwarming.
Platinum Dunes is the production company, who I will always be grateful to for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.
Oh, and hopefully the sequel gets a bit more cash on its side and can go nuts.
A meaty idea and some juicy kills aren’t quite enough to distract from the formulaic home invasion thriller The Purge turns out to be. Maybe next time. 2 out of 5 stars.