The Purge is set in the not too distant future in America where, under the “New Founding Fathers”, for 12 hours between June 7th and June 8th, all laws are suspended and all help withheld, allowing everyone the opportunity to purge their negative emotions on one day with the goal being that of maintaining low unemployment and crime levels throughout the rest of the year.
The film focuses upon security salesman James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family who, alongside everyone in their neighbourhood, lock-down their houses until the Purge is over. However this time their son Charlie (Max Burkholder) lets a stranger (Edwin Hodge) into their house after he is seen in the street calling for help. This leads a group of masked individuals to the house demanding the stranger to be brought out so they can purge themselves. If they do not comply they will get in, and they will purge them all. The siege is on.
Right, now the obligatory description is out of the way, here comes the proper review of the film. Go and see this film. It is different and interesting to talk about in a pub in a “What would I do if it was me” scenario which is reason to watch it in itself. The concept is interesting and, to an extent, the finished article was well done. The filmed flowed from one event to another without any jerkiness or seemingly inexplicable events occurring that defied the films precepts.Lena Headley (as seen in Game of Thrones) as Mary Sandin wins best performer for this film, portraying the conflict of what is right and wrong with their actions with the most believability and summing up the metaphor of fearing of becoming those they hide from. Though, to be fair, Max Burkholder is not far behind her, also giving a sterling performance with only some moments that make you want to smack some sense into him, but that would be the directors, and not his fault. Charlie also controls Timmy which everyone will love. This is a fact.
Right now for the criticisms, as there are quite a few. Though a film that flowed well, it was a film that left many questions unanswered and left the audience gesturing violently at the screen (a mild term at best) as to “why the hell did that just happen?”. The purging strangers have masks on. Why? One could argue that it is scarier that way, but the film lacked fear entirely, so the masks seem quite redundant. Furthermore, wouldn’t it be more horrific if one saw the faces of your assailants merrily coming towards you with a machete in each hand delighting in your forthcoming death with blood-curdling screams? Also, their crimes are not illegal at this time, so there is no need to hide their faces. They can merrily murder mask free and it would have been much more believable. Seriously, the more I think about it, the more the masks make no particular sense whatsoever.
Also the daughter Zoey Sandin (Adelaide Kane) wanders the house alone while the siege in going on after (minor spoiler alert here) James shoot and kills her boyfriend after he pulls a gun on him. This produces the most gesturing and near shouting in a cinema as you feel this girl (although apparently a top student) purposefully separates herself from the family while the siege is going on. You feel bad but you almost wish at times she is shot at that moment for her sheer stupidity. There are so many more moments like this that make the film lose any real suspense as things become blatantly obvious and (major spoiler here) there is a plot twist, but if you don’t work this out in the first ten minutes then you may need your brain examined.
By all means go and see this, but seriously, The Purge is crying out for a remake with someone with better skill and imagination at the helm as James DeMonaco’s concept is superb, but not executed as well as it could have been. While you would keep Lena Headley for the remake, the film would need an entire overhaul for it to work. But it can work, and I implore any budding or exceptional well-renowned film directors who see this review: remake this film, it is worth it.