An interesting concept, a very talented actor, and a brand that has produced some of my favorite movies over the last few years. After months of anticipation finally the day came for me to see The Purge! I arrived at the theater early, bought my large popcorn and Coke for $600, and settled into my favorite seat. Now, after seeing the movie, I feel the need to purge myself a little in this review.
A unique concept is something that is unfortunately very rare in Hollywood these days. The Purge had that. It is set in the year 2022. Crime rates and unemployment are at an all time low and it's all due to the annual purge. Once a year for a twelve hour period, all crime is legal. Anyone who deems it necessary is free to purge themselves of negative emotions, and to purge society of it's most undesirables elements.
The movie sets up very well. The opening credits set the eerie pace with a montage of scenes from previous purges filmed from security cameras and set to overly cheerful music.
The movie opens in a suburban, well-to-do neighborhood. Everybody is talking about the purge and how much good it does for society. All this really gives the movie a nice realistically creepy feeling.
Ethan Hawke plays a character named James Sandin. He sells security systems (very successfully it seems) so his family has everything they need to protect them during the night. Hawke carried the first twenty minutes or so of this movie. Everything else was truly bad. I wasn't familiar with Lena Headey, who played Sandin's wife Mary, nor was I impressed by her performance. I probably won't remember her in the next movie I see her in either. The two kids, Charlie and Zoey, played by Max Burkholder and Adelaide Kane respectively, were nothing but annoying to me from the start. Charlie was the typical long haired geeky but rebellious teenage boy that appears in seven out of ten movies these days. Part of the reason I hated him so may have been that his introduction involved a silly mutilated baby doll head on wheels robot thing with a camera in it. It was right out of Sid's room in Toy Story. Painfully obvious to me was that this contraption was only there to shoehorn a few "shaky cam" effect scene's into this movie. The girl Zoey was Bella from Twilight in a school girl outfit. Why she had a school girl outfit on at 7:00 at night, I have no idea. She was clearly more concerned with making out with her too old boyfriend than the upcoming purge. These random make out scenes contained the worst dialogue of the movie (Everybody says I love you, let's growl instead. They actually said that.) and were shot way too close up. Honestly, they made me feel like some kind of a perv; like I was watching something I shouldn't have been. So, long story short, I hated the kids.....and the family in general. I actually felt bad for Ethan Hawke having to be saddled with all this talentless, uncreative baggage. Was that a little too harsh? Maybe. Moving on.
So, basically at this point in the movie, you're sitting there watching a family you hate get ready for the purge. You, already want them to die horribly and by the way they are going on and on about how safe they are, one can't help but believe that is exactly what will end up happening. They lock the house down and then the movie falls apart completely. That whole interesting concept of the purge pretty much vaporizes before your eyes leaving in it's place your typical home invasion movie. You know:
"We want in."
"They can't get in, can they dad?"
"No, of course not. Well would ya look at that?"
Basically, the geeky hippie looking son in an act of defiance against the purge lets in a homeless man who is now hiding in the house. There is a group of people outside the house demanding the man be thrown out to them or they will come in and kill everybody. The question I have is, why are they so concerned with killing this one guy on a night when it is legal to kill anybody and everybody you want? Oh there I go again, asking logical questions when there is a perfectly good home invasion/slasher flick going on.
So these people are outside and they're all dancing around and acting silly in masks, except the apparent leader of the group who is way over the top creepy. The silliness of the whole situation is confounding. The audience in the theater laughed out loud at least five times during the movie.
This experience leaves me with no interest in ever seeing another James DeMonaco movie ever again. The whole thing was shot way too close up and his dialogue was absolutely aweful.
The whole message of the movie, if there was one at all, seems to me to say that without law we all turn into Scarface. That's what I learned anyway. We're all professional killers at heart who can slaughter another human being and not even blink. I honestly never knew human beings were such nasty, vile creatures. Thank you for enlightening me James DeMonaco. Thank you. The Movie Man gives it 2 out of 10 stars.
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