It’s 2022 and the USA is doing great. They attribute this to the Purge: one night every year where crimes are legal. The Sandins are supporters of the Purge, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) makes his money (and a lot of it) by selling security systems and together with his wife Mary (Lena Headey) he pretty much has the perfect suburban family. But this Purge Night things start to go very wrong and the Sandins find themselves besieged in their own house.
I didn’t like the Purge the first time I saw it and probably wouldn’t even have watched it a second time if it hadn’t been for the double feature at my local cinema (review of the second one follows) and the company of some of my /slash colleagues. In any case it is safe to say that the film does not improve on re-watching. At all.
There are two major issues with The Purge: one, the strange mix of bashing you over the head with its message and attempts at subtlety about it. Not only is this mix a bumpy ride for the audience but it’s never the more interesting things that are made explicit. Those things – like the social consequences, the class and poverty issues, etc. remain in the background, while the conflicts within the upper class gets pushed in the foreground.
Two, there are so many logical gaps in the story. The people who show up at the Sandin’s house: did they really just stroll up to the neighbors and ask for information where the homeless guy might be hiding? And those neighbors saw and told just like that, only to intervene later? When the house is attacked and the security door ripped from the house – why are suddenly all the other security provisions gone, too? All the windows uncovered? Why does Zoey (Adelaide Kane) wear her school uniform (that is basically straight from a porn and not from a school anyway) the entire time? In fact, why does Zoey do anything she does?
And those are not even half of the questions that the movie fails to answer.
When there’s so little sense to a film or its characters, it’s hard to care about any of them. Instead of empathizing with and rooting for them, you’re more occupied with rolling your eyes at the screen and, in my case, drinking copious amounts of alcohol.
But even when you’re drunk the film’s mistakes are so glaringly obvious that you can’t help but wonder how this was ever produced in the first place. Or why there would be a second film.