The Purge had an interesting concept but the closer you look, the dumber it was. But if you set the logical aside, and can handle an unlikeable and utterly stupid family, the suspense and thrills are effective and at 85-minutes it’s not a big time investment. It’s nothing memorable yet it’s probably worth a Red Box rental rather than a blind buy.
Universal | R – 85 min. – $34.98 | October 8, 2013
Directed by: James DeMonaco
Writer(s): James DeMonaco (written by)
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headley, Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder
Theatrical Release Date: June 7, 2013
Features: Featurette, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 28.0 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 2.5/5
At first glimpse, James DeMonaco’s The Purge seems like a fascinating idea contemplating what would happen if, for a 12 hour period, everything including murder were legal and you had a nation participating while others hunker down with the rich supposedly safe behind their gates and apparently iron-clad security systems.
This is the situation James Sandin (ETHAN HAWKE) and his family – his wife Mary (LENA HEADEY), son Charlie (MAX BURKHOLDER) and daughter Zoey (ADELAIDE KANE) – find themselves locking down for the night and laying low as the outside world descends into chaos and murder.
But it would be too easy if things were quiet in the Sandin household. For starters, Zoey’s boyfriend, whom James disapproves of, has snuck in before lockdown not for some hanky-panky but to have a one-on-one with her father. Well, unbeknownst to Zoey, this “one-on-one” involved a gun and bullet meant to kill. Second, Charlie, being somebody who isn’t entirely a sociopath like the rest of society, lets in a homeless man (EDWIN HODGE) being merciless hunted by a gang of white rich folk led by a psychopath credited only as “Polite Leader” (RHYS WAKFIELD). Examples #1 and #2 why I hate kids in movies.
Although Charlie’s heart is in the right place, his actions put the entire family in jeopardy when the “Polite Leader” and his gang show up to the Sandin doorstep demanding they turn over the homeless man or else they will be forced to enter at which point the Sandin family will also be fair game. While James is more than willing to turn the man over, problem is he’s on the loose somewhere in the home and Charlie attempts to help the man hide. Example #3 why I hate kids in movies.
The remainder of the film consists of a battle of morals as James must contemplate, when capturing the homeless man, whether or not to turn him over for basically execution. There’s really not much more to it and it is a bit of an interesting quandary. That being said, the biggest problem with The Purge is with the characters themselves: I couldn’t care less about any one of them, the kids and parents alike aren’t very likeable; it’s just that the people outside are more insane…
The other issue with the movie is with the concept itself. As I said, on the surface, it’s an interesting idea creating a world where, for the most part, there are no rules for 12 hours and it’s Fury Road across the country. The problem comes when you start thinking about it and realizing it doesn’t make a lick of sense from a psychological standpoint. How exactly does having a moratorium on law for a half a day alleviate violence for the rest of year? Wouldn’t the murder and chaos only expand as people get a taste for it even if it’s only 12 hours? Now, in fairness they do set some rules not allowing certain types of weapons and that government officials are off-limits, but it’s still dumb but I guess as a catalyst I can ignore it.
The film itself isn’t terrible as there are some nicely suspense-filled moments and I can honestly say despite the annoying characters and their harebrained choices, it never lost my interest and clocking in under 90-minutes makes for fast pacing. On that front, it’s not bad but it certainly didn’t live up to its fullest potential.
Casting wise, Ethan Hawke plays a great douchebag I suppose symbolizing excess, Lena Headley is fine as a wife and mother protecting her family and the kids are… well… so damn annoying that I really despised them from the very beginning. Seriously kid, it’s not the 90s, get a haircut, oh and don’t let a stranger inside when you haven’t the foggiest clue what he might do! On the flip side, why the father would give his kid the code to disable the system is perplexing. Speaking of the system – and perhaps this was a statement on just how ineffective the security was in the first place – but the bad guys were able to gain entry by simply using a truck and chains. Nice one.
Ok, despite all my complaints and nit-picking, The Purge is hardly an awful movie offering some legitimate suspense and with such a short running time, not a huge time investment. Personally, this reminded me of the 2008 suspense-thriller The Strangers, a film I found far more effective on the whole. But if you’re looking for a quick hit for thrills, The Purge is worth at least a rental.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.0/5
Matching other Universal releases, this one comes with a slip cover. Inside the case is the DVD Copy and a slip containing the Digital Copy code for either UltraViolet or iTunes.
Surviving the Night: The Making of The Purge (8:54; HD) – This is your promo featurette containing footage from the movie intertwined by interviews with the cast and crew. There’s nothing really fascinating here as the participants discuss the plot and the predicament their characters are placed in.
Previews – Curse of Chucky, “Defiance”
VIDEO – 4.75/5
The Purge shows up at your doorway demanding you relinquish the Blu-ray with its 1080p high-definition transfer and presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio. This transfer, unsurprisingly, looks pretty good with some excellent detail levels while the colors are muted giving way for darker scenes which show no signs of artifacting or pixilation. But even the lighter scenes look quite good and finely detailed. If you’ve ever seen a Blu-ray released by Universal, this is on par with a warm vibe.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is strong showcasing the film’s suspense and showing a nice range from the quieter moments to when the thrills amp up in the third act. The bulk of the action does take place through the center channel but the front and rear speakers are nicely balanced with Nathan Whitehead’s score to the off-camera ambient noises.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
Overall, The Purge had an interesting concept but the closer you look, the dumber it was. But if you set the logical aside, and can handle an unlikeable and utterly stupid family, the suspense and thrills are effective and at 85-minutes it’s not a big time investment. It’s nothing memorable yet it’s probably worth a Red Box rental rather than a blind buy. The Blu-ray fails with the bonus material but the audio/video transfers are top notch.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.