Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Purge


One Day a Year, Crime is Legal

7.0 out of 10 | Matinee or Rental

Rated: R  Strong disturbing violence and some language
Release Date: June 7, 2013
Runtime: 1 hour 25 minutes

Director: James DeMonaco
Writers: James DeMonaco
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headley, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield, Tony Oller, Arija Bareikis, Tom Yi, Chris Milkey, Tisha French, Dana Bunch

SYNOPSIS:  A family is held hostage for harboring the target of a murderous syndicate during the Purge, a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized.

REVIEW: Long-time screenwriter (Assault on Precinct 13) and short-time director (Little New York) James DeMonaco takes on a high concept suspense thriller story where crime has been legalized by the government for once a year during a 12-hour period.

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight) sells high end home security systems. Business is booming ever since the United States government put into effect The Purge, an annual 12-hour suspension of law and order. The Purge allows for the temporary legalization of all crimes - up to and including murder. Unemployment is at an all time low of 1% and the economy is prospering. As James and his wife Mary (Lena Headey, Dredd 3D), seventeen year old daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane, Goats), and son Charlie (Max Burkholder, NBC's Parenthoodprepare for securing their home for the annual event. As the first hour of the chaos begins, Charlie disarms the system long enough to let an injured Bloody Stranger (Edwin Hodge, Red Dawn) inside their home. As James tries to deal with the rescued intruder, he also has to contend with Zoe's forbidden boyfriend Henry (Tony Oller, Beneath the Darkness). Soon, a group of Purge hunters come to the home and demand that James bring out the homeless man - as is their right during the Purge - or they will break through the home's security system and kill them all. The Sandins have to decide whether to give up the rescued man or stand their ground against the Purgers. 

'Once a year, crime is legal'. It's the subtitle of The Purge, a high concept idea on par with John Carpenter's Escape from New York and In Time, with the familiar pinnings of 'trapped in house' themed films like The Strangers and The Last House on the Left. In Lord of the Flies, the deterioration of society results in anarchy and survival of the fittest. The annual Purge seems to be an excuse for the wealthy to thin the herd of undesirables like the homeless and disenfranchised. Of course unemployment would be at 1% when you hunt down and kill the homeless and lowlifes across the country with government approval.

What does it take for someone to resort to murder? Charlie asks his father why they do not take part in the annual Purge. James respond that they don't have an urge to kill anybody on the annual day with no restraint. Will they still share that same sentiment when the family is confronted with avid Purge hunters who come knocking at the door?

In the concept of legalizing chaos for one night, the story looks at what it takes to fundamentally change how a society thinks and acts. After years of the Purge being in existence, younger students are taught the meaning of the Purge, why it is so beneficial to the country, and why it is the right and just thing to do. When you change a society to think that murder is justified – even for one day – then you have changed society all together. Taboo is no longer taboo, responsibility is left at once doorstep as a take out weapons to fulfill their need to purge.

Ethan Hawke plays his role as father, provider, and protector as well as he did in last years Sinister. Lena Headey plays Mary like a woman who lives her life with an air of deserving. The Bloody Stranger who young Charlie rescues is both menacing and unpredictable. But the one who stands out the most is the 
Polite Stranger (Rhys Wakefield, Sanctum), a man so ingrained with the annual cleansing of the Purge that he has become an indoctrinated reveler who knows nothing else. His Ivy League charm, eloquent speech, and refined demeanor barely masked the privileged and snobby killer that lies just beneath the surface.

While the concept is high, the execution is less so. There are some twists and turns along the way that provides good frights and surprises, but mostly each kill - although striking and brutal - are somewhat expected. Somewhat formulaic, the film is not all paint-by-numbers. Although nothing spectacular, the suspense horror fan will find some entertainment in the film. Some of the kills even illicit cheers and jeers.

The Purge is a fine idea of the dystopian futures society, speculating on a single impossible government decision that is suppose to better society. What we end up with is a clever "trapped-in-a-house' suspense/horror/thriller that does not live up to the total cleansing that the purge implies.

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