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The Purge

2013 | 85 min | R | 2.39:1

The Purge


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User reviews

3 user reviews

Movie appeal



Theatrical release date

 07 June, 2013
 31 May, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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The Purge


Screenshots from The Purge Blu-ray

The Purge Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, June 6, 2013

“The Purge” has a crackerjack premise it takes absolutely no interest in. It’s a disappointing feature that contains a substantial amount of stupidity, asking its audience to digest an entire buffet of illogic as it discards any hope for a profoundly satiric or meditative approach to a futureworld story of government-branded nationwide order via unspeakable violence. “The Purge” is careless work, more interested in summoning a haunted house atmosphere of cliched chills than exhaustively working over the potential of the piece, bringing to the screen a dire depiction of a world gone mad. Instead, the movie runs through the motions, gradually lobotomizing itself over 85 wasteful minutes.

In the year 2022, the vaguely theocratic government of the United States has arranged a “Purge” for the country where for one night, over 12 hours, murder and assorted crimes are legal, with no help available from emergency services. Cashing in on Purge hysteria, James (Ethan Hawke) is home security salesman who’s made a killing in the business, ready to kick back with wife Mary (Lena Headey), teen daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane), and young son Charlie (a frustratingly flat Max Burkholder) and survive the carnage from the comfort of their fortified home. Growing concerned about the ethical price of the Purge, Charlie, in a panic, allows a bloodied stranger (Edwin Hodge) begging for help entrance into the home, hoping to reduce the body count of the evening. With the dwelling in disarray due to the new addition, James and his family face a new, more determined threat in a Masked Man (Rhys Wakefield, overacting to an excruciating degree) who’s come by to claim the escapee, threatening annihilation if the suburbanites don’t comply with his demand. Backed by a crew of armed thugs, the troublemaker is ready to storm the house. Inside, James scrambles for a solution, desperate to protect his loved ones.

A good thriller riddled with illogic will work overtime to help the audience forget such nagging inconsistencies, using enticing cinematic force to misdirect from lackluster screen execution. “The Purge” leisurely backstrokes in the Olympic-sized pool of its own confusion, going only so far to establish what the murderous event is, offering only vague details concerning its rules and regulations, while completely silent on how America could be completely upended a mere nine years into the future, complacent enough to allow such a horrific annual event to occur (government officials take a calendar year to agree on the proper temperature of a Hot Pocket, I’m not sure they could legalize murder in just under a decade). The screenplay by James DeMonaco (who also directs) is all big ideas and no explanations, employing a memorable tidal shift in policy and God-fearing leadership to make what becomes a routine movie, though “The Purge” is far more interesting as a snapshot of authoritarian control and semi-spiritual cleansing (promotion for the Purge commands participants to “Release The Beast”). The premise is ripe with potential, but DeMonaco spends the entire feature distancing himself from the juicy particulars of such social extremity, trying his damnedest to water down an intelligent discussion of moral responsibility.

It doesn’t take long for the picture to abandon common sense, working itself into a pedestrian hide-and-seek game around James’s massive home, where the family hunts for shelter in the dark once the Masked Man outside cuts the power. With “The Purge” co-produced by “Paranormal Activity” guru Jason Blum, it makes sense to watch the movie switch over to routine no-budget theatrics inside a flashlight-illuminated house, but that’s the limit to DeMonaco’s imagination, unless one counts a roving robot with night vision created by Charlie, which comes to guide those the boy deems worthy to the safety of his secret hiding spot. Otherwise, “The Purge” rolls over pretty standard home invasion territory, showcasing an unhinged baddie, an overconfident father, and distressed family members enduring a terrifying night, with the countrywide experience of the Purge regulated to a single household. And the tight confines of the standoff soon grow tiresome, finding the film’s eventual slide into mano-a-mono showdowns limited to just a few rooms, captured with jerky cinematography. Been there, done that, and in much more competent, barnstorming exploitation features.

There are scores of questions left behind at the end of “The Purge.” There are restrictions on weaponry, but who enforces this law? Why would a man who specializes in security leave his second-floor windows unprotected? Outside of being homeless and a veteran, what has the bloodied stranger done to offend the Masked Man so greatly? Why, after witnessing strangers attempt to kill his family, does Charlie still cling to his pacifist mentality throughout the movie? The list seems endless (nitpickers will adore this picture), and the abysmal screenplay of perpetual convenience has no interest in answering anything. It’s too busy cooking up violent standoffs and shootouts to care about details beyond visceral payoffs, presenting an absurd ending that taps into 99 percenter rage to goose the artificial build of outrage further. “The Purge” has no sense and little skill, and even accepted as a total fantasy with no basis in reality, there’s just not enough here that convinces.

Starring: Lena Headey, Ethan Hawke, Max Burkholder, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield, Tony Oller
Director: James DeMonaco

» See full cast & crew

The Purge, Forum Discussions

Last post
The Purge Review Thread 251 Jun 17, 2013
'The Purge' Sequel 31 Feb 11, 2014
The Purge 1 May 21, 2013

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