Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Purge

Year: 2013
Director: James DeMonaco
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield

Plot: In the future, America is a nation reborn. Crime and unemployment are nearly non-existent thanks to The Purge, where for one night a year, all crime is legal. On this night, a family of four find themselves under siege from a group of masked killers who targets them because of a stranger they gave refuge to.

Review: The concept behind this movie is interesting, if not entirely plausible. The American government grants a 12 hour period every year to The Purge, where its citizens can commit whatever crime they choose (subject to certain minor rules like not targeting important government officials or using nuclear weapons etc) and not be punishable for it. It's a way for them to settle their grievances without having to worry about repercussions from the law.

Most critics have panned this film, saying that the film's concept wasn't fully explored, instead simply reducing it to a standard home invasion thriller. Others have also mentioned the lack of logic surrounding the so called positive effects of The Purge, i.e. does it really work in curbing crime etc. But for me, the film's main flaw is its predictability.

The main protagonists here are the Sandin family, its patriarch being a man that sells home security systems. His family seems normal enough: good looking wife, rebellious daughter with a boyfriend that dad doesn't approve, introvert son who's technically gifted...the works. On the night of The Purge, the boy lets in a stranger calling for help outside. His arrival is quickly followed by his pursuers, a group of young men and women in masks, having fun with their right to purge. They threaten to break in unless the Sandins hand the guy over, and this is where the family realises that even the best security system will not hold them off.

As I said, it's the predictability that brings the film down a bit. I saw all the jump scares coming a mile away, but then if you've seen this genre before, it can't really be helped. Director and writer James DeMonaco threw in a few twists, but I saw those coming too. So what's left is the violence and a handful of solid performances. We get stabbings, shootings and a hard smash to the face which made some of the people I saw this with in the cinema laugh and applaud.

Ethan Hawke is usually dependable, and so he is again here. There's a bit of the guy he played in Sinister here, but ultimately he's just a man who will protect his family at any cost. Lena Headey is solid as his wife, who is the exact opposite of her character in Game Of Thrones. Rhys Wakefield also deserves special mention as the leader of the invaders, who proves to be more intimidating without the mask.

In conclusion, The Purge seems to be a precursor of what is to come rather than a fully explored take on 12 hour lawlessness in the modern world. The inevitable sequel can take viewers into new territories or new settings which may be more interesting than this. For now, we'll have to settle with a home invasion movie, which is average in its execution. (3/5)   

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