The Purge Movie Review
You want to kill your neighbor. Or your boss. Or that annoying kid at the end of the street. The United States has now sanctioned such actions, for one night each year. It is The Purge, a blissful time where otherwise ordinary citizens can unleash the rage that has built up inside them, a great stress reliever and tension killer. It is also a way to eliminate the poorest of the poor, because they can't afford to defend themselves.
And then there's the Sandins. Rich. Caring. Seemingly perfect. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) sells top-of-the-line security citizens to his neighbors. His wife (Lena Headey) doesn't appear to do much at all. Daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) likes to spend her evenings wearing sexy schoolgirl outfits. And on the night of the Purge, young son Max likes to do stupid things like let a crazy stranger into their house, hide the man from the rest of his family and hide in the dark while keeping his flashlight on.
Stupid, stupid Max.
Thankfully, The Purge is an entertaining if not at times inane thriller that keeps you guessing as to what will happen and who will die. Simple in its execution but fast-paced, The Purge increases in absurdity as time goes on, but the absurdity makes things all the better.
The movie's highlights include a creepy performance by lead villain Rhys Wakefield, whose cheery demeanor not so subtly masks his sinister intentions, Ethan Hawke kicking some serious ass for a brief moment and Adelaide Kane wandering around in a sexy schoolgirl outfit.
Still, if you think too much about the film (and I do not recommend you do), you can't help but realize James DeMonaco missed an opportunity to take his film from good to great. He sets the stage for a more complex thriller, where perhaps even family members turn on one another, but ultimately delivers a rather straightforward - albeit fun - story. Wouldn't it have been interesting had a certain character survived to help defend the house, even after attempting to kill another, which would have created a movie-long sense of tension? And after some fun set up, Wakefield's character gets the shaft without getting to go full batshit crazy - or even an encounter with Ms. Kane.
And why is Max so damned stupid? For that matter, why is the entire family so stupid?
There are a variety of other character and story developments that don't entirely work, or don't go far enough. As a result, The Purge feels rushed and almost incomplete, as if DeMonaco was unwilling to go fully to the dark side. Still, the movie's pace and absurdity mask many of the film's faults. The Purge, despite these faults, is entertaining and even exciting, and that's more than can be said for many movies released in 2013.
But why, Max? Why? Why are you so stupid?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.