Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Studio: Universal International Pictures
MPAA Rating: R
Director: James DeMonaco
Review Rating: 7
In the not-too-distant future, during the newfound government ritual known as the Purge, a security consultant and his family are held hostage.
First you have to accept what the movie is laying out as a plot. Somewhere in the realm of potential soon-futures, the government has brain-washed the United States into participating in the Purge, one day out of the year where for twelve hours all crime is legal. Theft, rape, murder and torture, there is no help coming from the police or the EMTs, effectively, everyone is on their own. Every single last person in the film, child or adult, has a comment on the effects of the Purge, and most of the adults pay lip service to how much good the Purge does society. Some people take this as license to run free like madmen and women, letting prejudices run extra wild, and hunting the most dangerous prey of all, man. Others batten down the hatches with state-of-the-art security systems, or attend seemingly civilized lawn parties to watch further-out parts of town burn. Whatever your Purge plans are, be prepared to do whatever it takes to ride it out til the dawn.
So we have the Sandlin family. Ethan Hawke is Father James, respectable security firm mogul, proud of his accomplishments as the most high-end home security system available, one which he uses in his own house. Mother Mary is Lena Headey, and sadly the female strength she’s known for in most of her characters is only present at about the third act of the movie. Max Burkholder is son Charlie, the odd pale little inventor who likes his hiding places and plaintively asks his parents why they don’t participate in the Purge. And Adelaide Kane is Zoey Sandlin, the teenage daughter who learns real fast that her teenage rebellion barely scratches the surface of the potential darkness in any human soul. James makes a successful sale and comes home to lock everything down with his state-of-the-art security system, and ride out this years Purge with his family. Like always, right? Mary makes flippant note of neighborhood Purge parties and two-faced neighbors, then goes to do the same. Zoey is schmoozing with her boyfriend when she really shouldn’t be, so he’s still inside when lockdown goes into effect. And if that weren’t bad enough, Charlie just has to go and unlock the security system to let in the lone black man being hunted through their posh neighborhood! Thus the hunters, who frankly look and act to me like psycho murdering masked Mormons, descend on the Sandlin house and the mayhem begins!
Whew. That’s at least some nods at a setup and backstory before delving headlong into shadow hunting man through the dark scary house. That’s pretty much all the second, and a good deal of the third act, is. There are some attempts at actual plot twists towards the very end, but honestly, that was predictable and nowhere near as shattering as the movie tried to make it. Not really a Horror, not much of a Thriller or Suspense either, The Purge sits lonely in the overlapping genre wasteland cracks.