The Purge

Director: James DeMonaco (2013)
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder
Find it: IMDB

One night a year, crime is made legal. That night, known as 'The Purge' is intended to give frustrated yobs and wannabe criminals the opportunity to cut loose and trash shit to their hearts' desire. Like The Hunger Games, except even less feasible in reality. Although, you know, there is a lot to be said for a society in which it is totally legal to burn down your place of work or punch that arsehole co-worker in the face for one night of the year.

James Sandin (Hawke) is a designer of high-end security systems, married to the lovely Mary (Headey) and father to two delightful children (Max Burkholder and Adelaide Kane), settling down for another uneventful Purge. Rolling down the shutters and hunkering down into their bourgeois, the last thing the Sandins expect is for the Purge to come a'knocking on their very door. Which is a bit silly, since the first places you'd expect to see fucked up by the unwashed masses would be the massive homes of wealthy bell-ends.

What follows is like The Strangers by way of You're Next, but not nearly as good as either of those things. It has a nice idea (if totally flawed) but pants execution and a lack of scope. In a world of the London Riots and the badly-behaved little shits behind them, there is room for a film like The Purge and its ideas, but that film is not The Purge. It aims for something deeper as the family happen across an innocent victim (Edwin Hodge) pursued by the Purge's masked marauders, but doesn't really do anything with it, or with him.

That's a shame, because Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey deserve so much better. Especially Hawke, who isn't snobby about taking genre material (I've loved him since the underrated Assault on Precinct Thirteen remake) but not so great at actually choosing the right genre stuff. Headey is brilliant, because she always is, especially during the film's final moments.

A good idea unsupported by its script or story, The Purge is a dingy, dull failure. If The Purge were a real thing, you could spend it illegally streaming The Purge, which is the only way I could recommend watching it  

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