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Movie Review: The Purge

Prinz Lee image

Prinz Lee wrote this review 4 years and 7 months ago

3     0

How cool is the concept of one night a year as a lawful outlet for American rage to be unleashed in the most barbaric, malicious ways ever. Seriously, the art of humanistic rivalries no matter what the cause would most definitely be one that could go in either direction: help us evolve in a way where we’ll literally beat and/or kill the respect out of one another, or just completely diminish our existence and everything we were supposed to stand for as indicated by our founding fathers.

The idea on paper seems awesome, and even piques more interest when learning it’ll be transferred into a narrative for an entertaining piece of what it would seem like if such a law ever went into effect.  

It’s arrived, and quite frankly I’m not sure where I stand. Well, I do. The thing is for such a cool, creepy, over-the-top concept much was missed in terms of an overall arc between grasping the core of the story, and really portraying something that would psychologically fuck us for days on end.

In the United States of 2020, one night a year is designated as “The Purge,” a 12 hour window of opportunity when Americans can murder, rape, vandalize and steal their hearts out. With citizens taking such a drastic approach and unleash their aggression, it puts the crime rate at an all time low for the rest of the year, and keeps unemployment low. (Don’t ask how or why.)

James (Ethan Hawke) works for a security company selling a system which turns homes into well-protected fortresses (so they say), specifically to keep families safe on Purge night. His success allows his own family to reside in a lavish home, which he has equipped with his security system.

James locks down his home on the night where “Release The Beast” goes into effect, and everything seems to be going well until an unfolding event happens that allows a homeless man into the house to escape a vicious gang who are out to kill him. The gang (who resemble the Manson Family to an extent) become aware of this poor man’s hideout and issues James an ultimatum: release the “homeless swine,” or they will use “special equipment” to break in and kill the guy and the entire family.

As a Sci-Fi premise goes, the central hook of “The Purge” is one of the most interesting ever, and works in ways that keeps a bit of suspense going until the entire plot falls flat after a while. Sadly, writer/director DeMonaco wastes the film’s selling point. In fact, the film could actually exist without the concept of “purging.” It’s essentially a riff on the climax of “Straw Dogs,” with the same dilemma of whether to protect the target of an angry mob, thus placing yourself at risk, or give them what they come for in order to save yourself. Rather than the intense, futuristic drama most will have been led to expect from the film’s trailer and marketing, DeMonaco presents us with a run-of-the-mill home invasion thriller.

The film is inundated with inconsistencies. The villains wear masks when they have no need to hide who they are. After all the talk of an “impenetrable security system,” they appear to break in ridiculously easy. A character disappears inexplicably for most of the action just to return for a plot twist. The daughter wanders the entire mansion-like home on her own instead of staying with her family. There’s no explanation ever given as to how exactly “purging” reduces crime the rest of the year, and interestingly enough how it keeps the unemployment rate down to 1%. (Although it is discreetly hinted that most of the well-equipped haves pretty much go out and hunt down have-nots, but it still leaves of huge gap of puzzling thoughts.)

However, where there’s bad, there’s good, and for all its ridiculousness, “The Purge” did entertain to a degree. It moves quickly at an hour and twenty minutes, and for what it’s worth, it’s a decent suspensor, shot in semi-darkness in confined settings. Therefore, I conclude, not an entire disaster!

Grade: C



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