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The Purge (Movie) Review

 
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At A Glance...
 

Genre: , ,
 
Director:
 
Age Rating:
 
Actor: , ,
 
Length: 85 minutes
 
Release Date: 7 June 2013
 
Story Line: Terror in suburbia as a family are held under siege during the annual Purge, when all crime is legal for 12 hours.
 
Final Score
 
 
 
 
 
2/ 5


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We liked?


An interestingly new and different take on the home-invasion genre with an exciting final third.

Not so much?


The Purge frustratingly fails to build on the foundation of its own premise in this messy and forgettable thriller that suffers from shoddy direction, a poor screenplay and below par performances.


Final Fiendish Findings?

It’s certainly a fresh and new addition to the home-invasion genre, and although it tries hard to be a horror, it’s devoid of any scares and relies heavily on its gun violence instead.

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Posted June 15, 2013 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings?
 
 

It’s 2022. America has recovered from the brink of collapse; a quadruple-dip recession and all time high unemployment and crime rates almost bringing the country to its knees. The solution: for one night a year, all crime is legal (including murder) for a 12 hour period whilst the emergency services are suspended and citizens are encouraged to purge; a means of venting their anger and frustration against others. As a result, Americans are happy, unemployment is at just 1% and the country is economically stable.

An interesting and preposterous concept in equal measure, The Purge deserves some credit for proposing and exploring the morality of the premise, as we follow Ethan Hawke’s affluent suburban family who are forced to test their respective moral compasses when their home comes under attack.

It’s certainly a fresh and new addition to the home-invasion genre, and although it tries hard to be a horror and borrows heavily from predecessors such as Ils (Them), The Strangers and at a push, Funny Games, it’s devoid of any scares and relies heavily on its violence instead. Not to say we’re treading into torture porn of gory territory here, but there is plenty of gun violence.

As a result, and despite the thoroughly exciting final third, The Purge unfortunately fails where it aims to deliver. With a running time of less than 90 minutes, we don’t get to know the characters well enough to emphasise with their moral predicament, and their indecision and constant mind changing just becomes quite frustrating rather than thought-provoking.

This sums up one of the main problems with the film, in that the characters are so painfully under developed, they’re essentially clichéd entities employed merely to complicate the scenario, unnecessarily so. With two teenage children who disappear and reappear on the scene every 30 seconds to create a forced sense of peril and subsequent relief, you can’t help but wonder just how much shorter the film would be if they just stayed in the same room together. Running around the house forever searching for the missing / hiding / sulking teenagers is the criminally underused Lena Headey, utterly brilliant and menacing as Ma-Ma in Dredd, but with absolutely nothing to do here apart from cut a frustrated figure (how much of that was acting, I wonder?).

Ethan Hawke coasts through the film as the focal figure whose principles are tested when he has to make a choice between right and wrong and how his decision will affect his family. Unlike in his previous foray onto similar turf in the excellent Sinister, where he superbly portrayed a man  obsessed and on the verge of a meltdown, giving a compelling performance as he cycled through the emotions, he sadly has no substance to build on here and simply goes through the motions as the weak script dictates.

The problems continue; a ridiculous and ill conceived, albeit brief, subplot involving the daughter’s boyfriend left me wondering exactly what the point in it was. Some truly painstakingly atrocious acting from those who played the next door neighbours left me cringing and embarrassed. An over-used gimmick which appears to have been stolen in design from Toy Story was presumably deployed to add a different visual approach and create an air of suspense, but this ultimately proved redundant due to the lack of scares, thrills or tension.  Finally, any credibility remaining intact was continuously pushed to the limit as events unfolded with such coincidental convenience that I actually wished the film was longer to give it a chance of redeeming itself.

Its saving grace was the deliciously disturbing and intimidating performance from Rhys Wakefield as the mob leader who threatens Hawke’s home. A captivating and commanding screen presence finally brought about a sense of menace and danger which contributed to the enthralling final half hour, but ultimately The Purge let itself down in far too many areas that it couldn’t recover from.

Forgettable and disappointing albeit with just about enough to it to lift it above poor. That being said, I am still wondering just how much the audience is supposed to relate to people who live in a house so huge that it’s possible for them to get lost in it.


JMC

 
Creator of the prominent Facebook film review page JMC Reel Reviews,