The Purge

As I get older I find that certain themes have a more profound effect on me. How far would I go to protect those I care about? Would I even be able to fight? If I was given the chance to exact revenge would I take it?

The Purge raised all these questions in it’s short run time, but with such a dopey set of characters making stupid decisions I couldn’t buy into it.

With the annual 12 hours of crime without punishment approaching, the Sandin family lock themselves away in their beautiful home, paid for by the Father’s (Ethan Hawke) sale of security systems to the majority of their well to do neighbours. Of course things go south very quickly after the sirens sound and the family find themselves in danger.

At first I thought that this might be a decent little film, with the opening shots of violence over security feeds setting the tone. Sadly not. We’re soon introduced to the family, with their reclusive younger boy and more rebellious attractive girl. What a shock. If you were running a cliché check list you’d have a couple crossed off right there.

Here’s a few more. Creepy masks. Reclusive boy is good with tech. No good boyfriend who sneaks into the bedroom. Constant use of “I’ll be right back”. It’s like they want to be killed!

Maybe they should just go to their panic room? Oh wait, they haven’t got one in their clearly very expensive house. Or maybe use the backup power when it gets cut? Oh, you don’t have a backup generator either? Ooops. Considering this is meant to be a night of lawlessness and they have plenty of money, you’d think they’d have a property that could be self sustaining for 12 hours.

The writer/director clearly had a lot to say, but it’s all so heavy handed. Political and societal allegories abound, constantly hitting you over the head, becoming tiresome. Eugenics, racism, class, and poverty. It’s all there.

Only one character really stood out for me, and not in a terribly good way. Channelling what I can only assume is ‘Patrick Bateman Lite’, the main enemy of the story (bar the government and the situation they’ve created!) is trying too hard to be scary. It doesn’t work. I just felt an urge to slap him the entire time.

The Purge made nearly $90 million from a $3 million budget; mighty impressive. Sadly this says nothing for its quality. A couple of well known actors can’t rescue a tale that at first sounds promising but quickly buries itself under its own stupidity.

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