The Purge is set in the not to distant future, centralized around a quiet, suburban neighborhood. In this not to distant future, the government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour event known simply as the purge. During this purge, all crime is legal including but certainly not limited to murder.
Let me begin by saying that conceptually, I am fascinated by this movie. Living in a society that has 1% unemployment rate, virtually no crime and everything is peaceful and working. Then once a year, for 12-hours, you can go out and release all the pent up negative energy, aggression, desire for justice, and hatred that you’ve bottled up for so long. This kind of a society poses so many moral and ethical debates, which could needless to say lead to pages of discussion however we will try to avoid that argument.
Ethan Hawke is great, I have greatly enjoyed Ethan in many of his other roles including Daybreakers and Assault on Precinct 13. And I think that Ethan did very well considering the character he is playing, James Sandin. James is a security system sales agent who is the top seller in the region. James seems like a nice enough guy, takes good care of his family and really promotes “team” rather than individual recognition. My big beef is that Ethan is very good at being very methodical and quietly intense. James however embodies anything but methodical or intense.
Lena Headey you may know better as the incestuous queen bitch from Games of Thrones. Again, like Ethan Hawke, Lena is a really great actress and she’s so good at being powerful and intense and showing everyone who’s boss. And again, her character is extremely limiting in the things she does best. Instead, she plays Mary Sandin, a very snobby woman who pretty much every neighbor hates due to her flaunting the wealth her husband James has amassed. Mary is really a completely normal woman who is just a rich, snobby lady who generally has a “my farts smell like roses” attitude. She doesn’t handle pressure very well but does what has to be done for the greater good of the family.
Their kids are Charlie and Zoey, played by Max Burkholder and Adelaide Kane respectively. These two actors I don’t know much about, but the characters I have the biggest issues with. Firstly, Charlie is a young boy who is really coming to terms with what the purge even is, how it affects everything and how he might be impacted by it. He has a very soft heart and doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt, not even a total stranger. He is clearly a very intelligent boy as his abilities with a little technie robot thing he made is very good considering his age. With that being said, the kid is a total dumbass for a variety of reasons; first is letting the guy on the street into the house; and second is when he is hiding and is moving around with a flashlight in a pitch black house. It’s just stupid, if you’re trying to hide, don’t keep peeking out with a bright flashlight, just stupid. Then there’s Zoey, now she’s a real prize teenager. The girl is wearing a sexy little school girl outfit the entirety of the movie, foolishly wanders around their massive home when she should stay by her family, and manages to be almost completely clueless the entire time of the purge event.
My last big issue with this movie was the “freaks”, the group of people who stalk the house and want to exact their right to purge. I fully understand that they wanted to wear their generic masks as an intimidation factor, but honestly it was just kind of silly. In all reality, if they plan on killing everyone, why hide your faces? Just didn’t like it.
All in all, The Purge is a big time psychological thriller that could have been so, so very good. I just really think that Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey were both bad choices, not because they aren’t good, but because they weren’t allowed to make the roles good due to the characters themselves. The son was a dumbass, the daughter was a mindless, self-absorbed teen and ultimately I just didn’t like it. Let me say once again, this could have been so very good, but it just wasn’t. If you have already seen it, please feel free to comment on what you thought of it.