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If you could commit any crime without consequences, what would you do? From the producer of Paranormal Activity and Sinister, comes an inventive thriller that dares you to survive the most dangerous night in America – The Purge – when all crime is legal for 12 hours. When an intruder breaks into James Sandin's (Ethan Hawke) gated community during the yearly lockdown, he begins a sequence of events that threatens to tear a family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide.
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The premise is what really drew me in: once a year, the government allows the citizens of the US to basically go all L.A. Riot on people with the intention of 'getting it out of their systems.' Allowing this has supposedly lowered the unemployment rate and dropped the crime rate the other 364 days. Taken at face value, this movie could have gone in so many other ways than what the writers/director chose. Instead, The Purge tells the story from the perspective of a security systems salesperson who appears to be profiting from the annual purge, because, let's face it, if you knew there was a free-for-all-killing-spree once a year, wouldn't YOU want the best security system? ADT should have paid big bucks to get their name in on this!
Unfortunately, only from the opening credits do you get a REAL sense of how the annual purge feels from purge feed cameras from all over the US. That's it. You never get any of this the rest of the movie. Instead, there's a lot of talk about it and the entire night of purging centers around the Sandin's. Now, given the fact that this movie was very low budget, I can appreciate the fact that they weren't able to invest a lot in sub-plots and had to resort to shock value in the opening credits (which is basically the hook of the movie); but they could have factored in a lower income family nearby for reasons I'll explain later.
The movie attempts to factor in that even though the purge seems to be openly accepted by society (it's all over the news and radio; even mentioning about how great the economy is because of it), there's still a moral dilemma involved - especially when you see someone begging and pleading for help. It also factors in that no one is safe from the wrath of human thinking. And you get the feeling right away that the other people in the neighborhood are jealous. And it actually executes on these pretty well. However, there's a lot it missed the mark on. Aaaaand...go:
1. If it's 2022, security systems (especially the most expensive) are STILL hackable? I mean, if the purge is such a big event where there is NO law enforcement, wouldn't Mr. Sandin's company create unhackable security systems? I agree youngsters are pretty nerdy, but c'mon, it was too easy. And if they were able to easily cut the power, couldn't they have just as easy opened the security doors? Why even go through the trouble of turning the lights off?
2. Eliminate the boyfriend. I mean, they actually DID eliminate him, but I meant from the script. He served no purpose. He had a brief role and then was killed. And very shoddy I might say. Everything in movies must help drive the story along - this didn't. You immediately get the notion the bf is going to play some role, especially when he's seen in the house after lockdown. You start to wonder if he's part of the whole master plan. Instead, he wants to kill the dad because he won't let him see his daughter? !?! "Honey, I killed your dad, the man who raised you and gave you everything you ever wanted, so that we could be together. Will you marry me?" Seriously? Anyway, moving on...
3. Everyone seems way too comfortable that there's a stranger in the house. And while we're on the subject of the stranger...how about a bit more back story on him? Why did they want him so bad? There are literally thousands of homeless people...why that one? Maybe he was part of a resistance against the purge and were out to stop the people purging. Like, purging the purgers. Because this guy was a beast with a gun. Anything other than he just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Furthermore, homeless people normally have a place to go to eat and sleep called "the shelter"...surely by then there would be a shelter to keep them safe the purge, no? Maybe that could have been a great premise...homeless people boarded up in a homeless shelter banding together to save themselves from the annual purge.
4. Your boyfriend just tried to kill your dad and there's a bloody stranger in the house, what do you do? Drag your dead boyfriend to your room, cry over him, ignore the fact he just tried to kill your dad, and ignore that the bloody stranger in your house could be trying to kill you. Go ahead and run from your parents when they try to help you after the lights go off, too. Teenagers. Ugh.
5. I realize it's a big house, but is it so big that others couldn't hear all of the gunshots and not come running to that one spot?
6. Dozens of state of the art cameras to watch what's going on outside and you don't have one single camera watching the INSIDE of your house?
7. You've got a bunch of crafty youngsters who just took out a state of the art security system only to be taken out by a group of ritzy wine drinking neighbors who rush in like agents from the Matrix. Poor execution.
8. You have a house bigger than most people dream about. You have a top-of-the-line (albeit very hackable) security system. You live in a neighborhood not prone to purges. And yet you're jealous your neighbor has a bigger house than you and makes more money? And THAT'S your reason for wanting to purge? I realize greed is powerful, but this just seemed way too rushed.
9. All of your neighbors just tried to mass execute your entire family and you choose to make them wait until the purge is over? Well that should make for some awkward block parties the other 364 days of the year. Basically you just gave them 364 days to think about how they're going to kill you. And you couldn't say anything more clever than a speech about peace? It just seemed too rushed.
Did anyone else notice the toy that Max's remote toy looked a lot like a toy from Toy Story?
So given a small budget, the movie wasn't that bad. It could have just been executed a bit better. A lot of times, I'm happy with the way the story of a movie unfolds; this one, not so much. The Sandin's narrowly escaping their multi-million dollar safe haven to the confines of the stranger's homeless shelter area and making a stand there would have been so much more entertaining. It would have given more back story to the stranger and more effectively shown that it doesn't matter how much money you have - you're always vulnerable. However, some people felt they did something right because there's already a sequel in the mix. Maybe Mrs. Sandin attempts to purge her neighbors as revenge.
I prefer, however, the second and third films in the series, largely because of Frank Grillo.
While they are less "intense" and more broadly played than the first entry, they are fun action popcorn films.
I am not going to spoil the movie here, but basically it is the story of one family's experience during a purge night. Besides the expected violence (of which there is plenty), the story line really just seems weak and predictable until one small curve at the end. I sat through the whole thing, but it was not easy. I won't be watching any of the sequels.
Ok ...first the Pro: Ethan Hawke ...what can I say the guy can carry a pig through a den of hyenas and he does. Good actor carrying a pig of a movie. Look .... crime is already low .... so low as to be almost unmeasureabvle ...so we need THE PURGE? Come on ....how about working out, sports, uh ...even some fight club ...but THE PURGE? Eh ......no. Premise flawed beyond repair .... got a 3 only for decent acting and ...yeah .... kick ass fight scenes.