The Purge (2013)

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Overall Rating 59%
Overall Rating
Ranked #837
...out of 22,328 movies
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Connections: The Purge

Given the country's overcrowded prisons, the U.S. government begins to allow 12-hour periods of time in which all illegal activity is legal. During one of these free-for-alls, a family must protect themselves from a home invasion. --TMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: March 29, 2016
It sure has been a while, hasn't it? It's been over seven months since I've written a movie review, and I've definitely missed it. Unfortunately, work, personal life, and other entertainment choices have gotten in the way. That changes today, and we're going to kick it off with a movie that I've been meaning to see since it came out. The Purge is a movie that has a great premise, and it's one that really sounded like it could have been special. There are so many things that can be done with this storyline, so I really thought that it would be hard to screw it up. So, I finally popped the disc in tonight, and in the end... well... you know how these reviews go. It's time for the synopsis first.

The year is 2022, and we find ourselves in an America where an annual event known as The Purge takes place. This event takes place once every year for a grand total of twelve hours, and during this time, almost any and every crime is completely legal. Want to rob a bank? Go for it. Want to murder someone? There's nothing stopping you. The government initiated this as a way of reducing crime and poverty rates, with the idea being that people could get all of their rage and anger out on one day every year, and be model citizens every other day of said year. The idea actually works in the movie, as the aforementioned crime and poverty rates have fallen to record lows. God bless America, am I right?

It's one hour before Purge time, and the movie focuses on James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), a businessman who has made a fortune in home security. After all, in a world where it's perfectly legal to murder and rape thy neighbor on one day out of the year, who wouldn't want a top-of-the-line security system? So, our hero settles in behind his supposedly impenetrable walls with his wife Mary (Lena Headey), his nerdy, bleeding heart son Charlie (Max Burkholder), and his stereotypical "sexy schoolgirl" daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane). The plan is to kick back and watch some TV as a family while the world burns outside those walls, but of course, things don't always go as planned. When Charlie decides to let a stranger into the house in order to save him, the people who were pursuing him show up... and they're not very happy.

As mentioned earlier in this review, I thought that the idea driving this film was incredibly interesting and opened up a world of possibilities. The thing is, having a family holed up in a house gives us two possible outcomes: nobody gets in and we have an incredibly dull movie, or somebody does get in and the story gets interesting. Now, in order for somebody to get into a house that is supposedly impenetrable, something has to happen to allow that: there has to be a flaw in the system, or in this case, somebody has to do something stupid. I get it: it's movie logic, and mistakes are made that are required in order to further the plot. My problem was that there were so many dumb choices made that it was hard to properly enjoy the movie. Again, I understand movie logic; a horror flick would be pretty boring if the main character decided to pass on visiting the haunted house or camping in those woods. However, these dumb mistakes have to be somewhat rooted in reality in order for things to really work. Who doesn't know somebody that would eagerly visit a haunted house just to see what would happen? When you see that on the screen, you can relate to it to a degree and can see somebody entering that house. The Purge features numerous mistakes that are hard to justify, and to be honest about it, there were times when I wondered how these characters made it this far in life without forgetting to breathe.

For a third time, I do get it: something has to happen in order to have an entertaining movie, and somebody has to do something stupid in order to have something happen. The problem here is that this leads to a chain of moronic decisions by everyone (especially on the part of the son), decisions that are impossible to sympathize with. It is impossible to get invested in a film when the plot advancements are so incredibly removed from reality that we are constantly reminded that this is a work of fiction. This does not ruin the movie entirely, but it does drag it down much lower than it could have been.

On the positive side, the film does have some things working for it. If you can ignore those dumb decisions and just accept that things happen, it does feature an interesting plot. I can't honestly say that I was ever bored by what was taking place on my screen - slapping my forehead from time to time, maybe, but never bored. There are some political statements to be found sprinkled throughout the running time, with the obvious theme of rich versus poor being but one of them. Of course, you could ignore all of that and just watch it as another thriller, and it is a moderate success on that front as well. There are some great scenes and some legitimately shocking plot twists, and some of those fight sequences were incredibly brutal.

Overall, I'm going to give this one a half-hearted recommendation. I'm not going to advise you to rush out and track down a copy, and I really wouldn't even recommend buying it at full price, but it was an average enough film. I was disappointed in its failure to capitalize on the full potential of the idea, but I did enjoy it to an extent. There has been one sequel released as of this writing, and while I haven't seen it yet, I do look forward to popping it in. There's a great idea driving these movies along, but I felt that the full potential of it was not realized here. Maybe next time. 6/10.
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