The Purge could have been an interesting concept for a short story. It’s a very implausible story. The characters are fairly unlikable and with the exception of the father, played by Ethan Hawke and the daughter, played by Adelaide Kane. The movie is a really flimsy way to make a home invasion movie and instead of giving you substance there is essentially nothing gained from this ham-fisted attempt at social commentary.
In the year 2022 America decides that in order to maintain it’s low crime rate and low unemployment they will make one day of the year where all crimes, including murder is legal for a 12 hour period. This day is called “The Purge” and it is supposed to serve as a cathartic period for people to release their violence and anger all in one time period. James Sandin, played by Ethan Hawke, is ready with his family to turn on a heavy security system and hide in his house for another purge day. His son sees a man in trouble and disarms the security to let him inside their house. Their house is soon surround by people who want the man inside and they will not stop until they get their target for the purge, even if it means breaking inside and killing the Sandin family.
The Purge is filled with plot holes. For example, if there was a day when murder was legal in the United States wouldn’t you want to leave the country for that day. It seems like the idea of staying in the U.S. is a terrifying prospect. Also, the movie has the kids constantly looking at the parents as if asking, “What have we become?” during the events of the night. They were raised with the purge. It should not be a new concept to them since they do not know of a world without it.
For such a short movie there are scenes just wasted wandering around in the dark. The son is an absolutely terribly character and everything bad that happens is entirely his fault. The movie had potential to end with something to at least indicate it had a backbone and maybe salvage something with a darker turn of events, but it inevitably goes the predictable route and plays it safe the entire movie.
There are a few action sequences that are shot well and are fun to see. However, it doesn’t happen often and it certainly isn’t enough to carry this movie. The freaky strangers in masks were only slightly creepy. Since they decided to all wear matching costumes for the most part. It made it more theatrical and certainly less realistic. Still, they had an almost childish attitude in the chaos they were wrecking upon the house so it was eerie at the very least.
In the end The Purge is just a forgettable movie that will likely see release on late night cable where it belongs. It is a shame because it should have at least been interesting, and it failed at that. I would not recommend seeing this in theaters but if you are desperate for a rental give it a look or wait until it’s on cable. I am pretty sure it is one of those movies that most people will realize is not nearly as intellectually deep as it wanted to be.