WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Ten years into the future, unemployment in America has dropped to 1%, and the majority of the country lives in wealth. This is thanks to an annual event called “The Purge” where, for a twelve hour period, all crime- including rape and murder- is legal. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) has gotten rich off The Purge, designing sophisticated security systems dedicated to keeping people out of their homes. But, when The Purge begins, Sandin’s family finds itself under attack when his son unwittingly gives sanctuary to a man (Edwin Hodge) being hunted by a particularly violent group.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
THE PURGE has one hell of a premise. All crime being legal for twelve hours could lend itself to a really white-knuckle action-thriller. THE PURGE isn’t quite that. Rather, it’s a micro-budget thriller-horror film that’s entirely confined to one location (the Sandin home), following one wealthy family that finds itself under attack. While it’s maybe not as ambitious as it could have been, you have to admire that writer-director James DeMonaco went the micro-budget route, and delivered a pretty damn effective film in its own right.
Despite boffo-box office (it made back its budget opening day) THE PURGE was coolly received by critics, to the extent that having not reviewed it myself I skipped it altogether in theaters. Having caught up with it on Blu-ray, I actually quite liked the movie, even though my expectations were set fairly low. At just over eighty minutes, it’s a tight thriller anchored by the fact that Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey make for a likable central couple, and sell the premise extremely well. Neither of them is shown taking partin The Purge, even though they’ve profited off it, and when their home is invaded by both a potential victim of the purge, and a gang of killers, they’re confronted with the morality of their material gain.
The absolute best quality of THE PURGE is the efficient pacing by DeMonaco, couple with one really excellent action sequence where a shotgun wielding Hawke has to take on half-a-dozen crazed killers to save his family. It’s almost Carpenter-esque here, although the movie comes to a bit of an anti-climactic end.
Despite the fact that it was a hit, the only extra here is a bonus DVD copy of the film, and a short “making-of” featurette.
THE PURGE isn’t a perfect film, but I had a great time with it. The premise is dynamite, and I’m not at all surprised THE PURGE 2 is already in the planning stages, although next time I’d like to see DeMonaco open up the story a bit. As it is, this is definitely worth checking out.