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The Purge [Celluloid Hero]


The Purge (2013)

I usually resist stupid puns with this series, but I really wish I could *PURGE* this movie from my memory. Sorry for that. I understand what this movie was attempting, I get the social commentary, I get the “what would you do?” scenario…but from the first scene to the last, I was rolling my eyes.

In the year 2022 (set surprisingly close to the present day), all crime becomes legal for a twelve hour period once a year. At 7pm, a siren goes off indicating the beginning of “The Purge”, and for that night people are free to do whatever they want, including murder. The mysterious “new founding fathers” of the United States created this concept for two reasons: to cull the weakest from our society, eliminate the homeless and the weak and those too poor to afford protection; it also allows the rest to live out humankind’s inherent violent nature, to be free for a moment without repercussion.

Ethan Hawke is James Sandin, a security system installer. As the upper class yearn to protect themselves from The Purge, he makes more and more money, cementing his status as a one-percenter. He, his wife, and two children take refuge in their house. Doors have multiple locks, windows are barricaded, and security cameras monitor the property.

And then everything goes to Hell. James’s son Charlie inexplicably allows an injured stranger into their house. The group that was “hunting” this man then turns their aggression towards the family and their house. Charlie’s actions are meant to show how some people haven’t allowed the primal rage to overtake them, but it really just came off as simply stupid.

The stupidity continues in a side story involving the daughter’s boyfriend, and gets even stupider as the injured man manages to hide in the house. The family is stupid, those close to the family are stupid, the gang of intruders is stupid, even the neighbors are stupid.  There is an attempt at a twist ending, but it was a fairly obvious one; even with the blatant foreshadowing, the reasons were somehow even more stupid than everything that came before it.

This sort of reminded me of a movie I previously reviewed, “The Box“. Would you push a button to get a million dollars, knowing it would cause someone somewhere in the world to die?  Or, would you participate in a government-sactioned murder spree, killing someone for what is believed to be a “greater good”?  These are interesting thought experiments, but when the respective directors tried to put those ideas on a movie screen, they fell short.


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On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, “The Purge” gets a 3 out of 10.


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