Posted July 29, 2013 by Nicolo Parungo in Movies/TV

Movie Review: The Purge

A movie always needs one great idea- or one profitable generic idea – to sell to its intended audience. Something simple and effective like giant robots vs giant monsters or teenagers have to kill each other in an island for food and even Wolverine fights ninjas in Japan….and is SHIRTLESS A LOT!The Purge” has a pretty great idea: Any crime is legal for one night a year. That is a money pitch and it presents plenty of interesting possibilities for stories that can make us question our morality, impulses and human nature itself. So it’s a shame that the movie doesn’t take full advantage of its biggest selling point and shamelessly sells out to cheap horror tricks and typical R-13 violence.

purge poster

In the year 2022 America is thriving thanks to the annual purge event, unemployment and poverty is practically non-existent because the poor are regular casualties of the one night killapalooza. I’ll give the writers credit for treating the annual hobo slaughtering like it’s a big deal; we see neighbours wishing each other a safe night, we hear the sick plans people planned for the evening via a radio show and we even witness someone sharpening a blade to stab people with. Its good world building and I appreciate that.

I also like that James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family are introduced and characterized even if their characters aren’t particularly engaging. James is a successful business man, his wife Mary (Lina Headay) is a caring and supporting housewife, his daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) is a teenage girl with boy problems and his son Charlie (Max Buckholder) is a sensitive kid who hates the purge. Said characterization helps us feel the gravity of the situation they’re in when they have to decide on if they should do the inhumane thing and handover the surviving purge victim to the murderers or face the consequences of protecting him; good stuff. 

ethan hawke

Unfortunately the film falls apart when the antagonists are introduced. While James and his family are fairly realistic the villains say things like “we must cleanse ourselves by killing the swine so the nation can continue being reborn” while trying to do “creepy things” like swinging on a swing or skipping down the hallway with two swords with their V for Vendetta masks. Their cartoony nature does NOT match the tone the film set earlier making every scene they’re in far from scary and cringe worthy, said skipping down the hallway with swords is so groan inducing that even Adam West’s Batman would roll his eyes in disgust before getting his bat shark spray and spraying the idiot away from the screen.

The tone also takes a left turn to bananas when the climax of the film ends up being an action film. The violence escalates quickly and with hilarious results – James hits a guy with an axe then proceeds to blow his face off with a shotgun and the final scene has more blood then the killings beforehand yet none of the characters in said scene die- but it continues to mess with the overall tone, leaving the film without one. It’s like the creators of the film couldn’t decide if they wanted to make a morality questioning flick, a home invasion thriller or a revenge movie so they mixed all three together because why not? “The Purge” has one very good idea and clearly has a lot to say, but it clumsily executes its message. It doesn’t make you question your morals, it doesn’t scare you and it doesn’t give you enough action so we end up with a film that has no idea what it wants to do.

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Thank you to Solar Entertainment for the opportunity to review this movie.

Nicolo Parungo