Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review 220: "The Purge"

"We are having dinner! No penises!"

That Makes Literally No Sense

      The Purge is a 2013 film that became a hit over the summer, grossing over $85 million on a $3 million dollar budget and is reportedly getting a sequel. The film is directed and written by James DeMonaco (Jack... Yes, that Robin Williams movie) and follows the event of one of the yearly Purges, a government-sanctioned night where all crime is legal and all emergency services are halted. The US is now a virtual utopia for reasons the film never explains well and specifically profiting are home security sellers. One such seller, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family, wife Mary (Lena Headey), daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and son Charlie (Max Burkholder) find themselves faced with the harsh reality of The Purge when Charlie takes pity on a dying homeless man (Edwin Hodge) and the criminals chasing him, lead by Polite Leader (Rhys Wakefield), begin breaking into the Sandin's house in order to get him back. The Purge seems like a lovely idea!

He really screwed up his Iron Man suit.
Premise and Plot

      As stupid as it may be in real life, the concept of The Purge is one of the best premise for a movie I've heard in a while. A night of entirely legal crime? What could they do? A story about teenagers who look for a thrill spending a night out during the Purge, only for it to backfire on them? A tale about what happens on the year the Purge ends, but everyone keeps on rioting? No, none of those things. This great premise and what does The Purge do? A simple, straightforward home invasion movie. Yeah, that's crap. And that's pretty much where all of The Purge's problems lie. The plot is not only so cliched and the premise is not only thoroughly wasted, but the film is even a sub-par execution of the home invasion film. The family is about a interesting as a group of glad bags filled with water and the villains are so hammy and silly that threatening is too embarrassed to even be in the same area code as them. The whole thing is just so dull that I was actively rooting for the bad guys to break in so something would happen. And then they did and it still was stiflingly lame. 

Live Free or Try Hard

      It's weird though, that The Purge tries so hard to make such a disappointing plot work. The film literally bends over backwards in some scenes to fit some more utterly cliched moments into the story. The film has two dull as nail climaxes with two different sets of villains, one set of which is so obvious that the characters might as well have been twirling mustaches when they were introduced. A subplot about a teen romance is shoehorned in and then ends abruptly with no impact on the plot at all. Worst of all though is the air of superiority the film has, like it's "social commentary" is so important that the film can get by solely on that. And with the already boring film in place, all that's left to do is to look extensively in the film's cool, but incredibly stupid premise. How could the Purge help the economy? If anything can be stolen, then you'd think places would be seeing a loss. How does it nearly end all crime? Studies have shown that releasing aggression only leads to more violent behavior. Plus, this only works if all crimes were impulsive and planned ahead of time. Heat of the moment crime apparently just stop too. There are fan theories of how this works, but those theories aren't in the movie. And all The Purge can actually say when asked how the Purge actually works is "Uhh, it works because it does. Now look out, here's a jump scare and a dude getting shot in the back. Haha, wasn't that cool? I'll just take your money and leave you here to feel bad."

Lazy Halloween costume AWAY!!!!!!!!!!
The Verdict

      The Purge might end up on my worst of the year list simply for wasting such a great premise. Despite the near endless possibilities of a night where all crime is legal, The Purge goes for an boilerplate home invasion thriller and a poor one at that. The cast is trying too hard, the direction is trying too hard and the story gave up long before the race even started. And when you're left bored out of your mind, waiting for the film to end, all you can think about is how seriously the film takes it's promising, yet dumb as nails premise. God forbid anyone have fun during a movie. The Purge gets 2 stars out of 6. 

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