Little to no unemployment, decreasing crime rates, and most importantly, a renewed economy. Welcome to Amuuurica, a country that thrives because every year, for one night, all crime is legal for 12 hours – including murder.
The Purge is an interesting concept. I’ve always been a fan of movies where the government puts an OK stamp on anything that involves the legal murdering of its own citizens because a) I’m a sick motherfucker and b) it gives the creator a lot of reasons to explore each character with such depth. Additionally, being billed as a suspense/thriller, it’s a challenge of how far the creator is willing to push the envelope.
The Purge had every potential to be James DeMonaco’s masterpiece, but the movie fell a mile short of a Mona Lisa.
In a beautiful gated community that praises The Purge, Ethan Hawke plays James Sandin who is the motherfuckin’ man. He capitalizes on the annual Purge’s popularity and is one of the top sellers of home security systems. His wife Mary (Leah Headley) is a caring mother, protective of her children yet in that same light, realizes the good of the Purge. Zoey (Adelaide Kane) is the rebellious daughter who really can’t give two shits about anything happening in the world while Charlie (Max Burkholder) seems to be the only one who cares about humanity. Yet even with the family-of-four movie stereotype being a huge playground for character exploration, The Purge puts them in situations that are meant to show how genuinely caring and afraid they are, yet ends up downplaying the very essence of their character by making them look like they’ve been suffocated of IQ points once the house is put on lockdown.
Let’s take for example, Charlie who is the main reason why the family treads on deep shit. Despite the fact that the kid can construct a battery operated truck with a camera mounted in the head of a half burned doll, he can’t seem to work his way around a more logical method to let the homeless prey (Edwin Hodge) of the Purge psychopaths in. And despite the homeless man being desperate for a way out of this malicious new law, his questionable actions make you second-guess his motives even though they’re not needed. He’s a homeless man on the run. Why couldn’t we just stick to that rather than having him go apeshit crazy?
There were also events in the movie that, on the surface, seem to add layers to The Purge, but then at hindsight are unnecessary. The storyline between Zoey and her boyfriend kept moviegoers at the edge of their seat but when you walk out of the theater, you seem to forget that all of that happened. Additionally, they decided to give the leader of the Purge participants some lines… probably because they wanted to show how far gone from the cuckoo’s nest society has gone. Yet again I ask, was it really necessary? Especially the way in which Rhys Wakefield portrays his character, which edged theatrical than menacing and foreboding. At some parts, the characters are in too deep in the fray that their lines come off as comedic rather than desperate.
But the biggest misstep lies in the intricacy of the premise itself. The movie never explains whether or not there’s a clean-up crew nor does it attempt to explain what will happen to the bodies. The movie doesn’t dare venture into other crimes like rape, robbery, or extortion even when it had big opportunities to break past the murder fringe. Instead, you’re left to think about how awkward it is to be living with neighbors who want to kill you or ponder about how you’d be able to renovate the house after such damage has taken place. Will the government pay you back in restitution or are you building from the floor back up? I’m not going to give anything away, but I will say that the Sandin family is financially fucked.
Despite its flaws, the movie shifts from a tense thriller to an action-packed blood bath, although it’s not necessarily too graphic. It does have its enjoyable high points, most especially when the movie turns into a huge hunt-or-be-hunted fight. You can’t help but feel energized by the retribution.
All in all, The Purge should’ve would’ve could’ve been a great movie, but the small errors meshed with the unanswered outside questions make it something you can wait to be posted online.