The Purge (2013) Review

the purge reviewSynopsis: A family is held hostage for harboring the target of a murderous syndicate during the Purge, a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized. [from IMDb]

Neoli’s Review: It’s about time Ethan Hawke starred in a sci-fi thriller again.  The last time he did that was in Gattaca back in 1997, and he was wonderful.  Sure, his very talky, romance trilogy with Julia Delpy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight) was also nice and all, but once in a while, it’s refreshing, too, to see Ethan in something action-packed and life-threatening.

And thus we have The Purge (not to be confused with brilliant film from Finland also called The Purge).

Anyway.  Set in the not-so-distant future, the film has that Orwellian atmosphere, but instead of 24/7 surveillance and propaganda, one night each year, the government has legalized crime of all forms—including murder, since crime rate is practically zero the entire year.  It’s like this: people deserve one day in which to let out all their anger, hatred, violence, and every other evil primal emotions they’ve been keeping all year long.  A sort of reward for being good citizens.

The premise is flimsy, I know, because in the future I would expect science discovering a breakthrough in curbing, even eliminating people’s murderous tendencies, not the government allowing an all-night nation-wide murder.  And if people really needed release, aren’t video games doing a good job of it already?

The Purge easily reminds me of Panic Room.  In both films, the bad guys break in the supposedly safe and protected walls of the homes.  In Ethan Hawke’s case, it’s doubly ironic since he sells home security systems precisely for this occasion.  So the entire time I’m watching The Purge, I drift and remember Jodie Foster instead—the intense look on her face, the danger she and her daughter must live through, and the helpless claustrophobia overall.

This is not to say The Purge pales in comparison.  It’s a well-made film, no doubt.  Just the right amount of thrill of the hunter and the hunted with rampant killing here and there.  If anything, I liked the concept of a wealthy family coming to terms with their mortality, suddenly becoming vulnerable.  Erase Orwell; it’s more like Darwin’s survival of the fittest for this film.

But the concept of a society with a 100% tolerance policy of crime even for just one night?  I just don’t buy it.

Neoli’s rating: 6/10

Eric’s Review: The Purge is such a waste of  potential, it’s been a while since I’d been so mad at a movie. Because what starts as a shaky but exciting premise, ends up as another ripoff home invasion movie (and a family-friendly one, not a gut wrenching one ala Funny Games).

The Purge should have been an intense horror/Thriller showing us the darkest parts in human psyche. With a better director and gutsier producers we might have had another “Clockwork Orange” on our hands. But not here.

The Purge is another hollywood made thriller with no scares, no thrills and almost no blood. Everybody acts dumb (don’t get me started with the kid, the fact that they do not have a panic room in the house, they do not give guns to the homeless guys once  the “purgers” get into the house, the main villain does not finish off the dad when he could, and nobody has thought about leaving the country for a week or two during Purge???).

But what pisses me even more are the missed opportunities to show raw violence and create a real sense of tension by showing us more about the impact of the purge all over the country (apart some lame voiceover in the credits and some streets footage). Instead, we stay on the rich people side of the fences where nothing is new (we do not need a purge to see this kind of people acting the way they do in the movie) and where ultimately we do not care about their demise and the stakes are just not high enough.

The Purge is rather like A Plague: to Avoid.

Eric’s Rating: 4/10

Writer & Director

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge

Click Here if You want to Own The Purge on DVD or Blu-Ray (really?)