Friday, 7 June 2013

'The Purge'; A review.

Sinister masks. Original.

In 2022 (that's nine years away folks for fuck sake)America has resorted to sanctioning all crime for only one night of the year. Between seven P.M and seven A.M on the night of The Purge you can murder, rape and kill as much as you like. All emergency services are suspended for that night and you, as a citizen are on your own...

It sounds like a cool concept for a film; government sanctioned mass murder. The idea that you can go for a crazy blow out and relieve all your aggression and hatred in one night by rampaging through the streets, or perhaps tracking down your boss, or ex boyfriend and brutally dispatching them... and it's legal! Sadly that is as much thought as they have put in here.

The idea itself leads you to the obvious; the rich survive, the poor die. That is true in all of history, but in this film they claim The Purge drops the crime rate down to 1%! Like there wouldn't be revenge kills in the weeks after? That the relatives of the raped and ravaged wouldn't tool up and head out into the night air. After all, if you can kill without conscience one night of the year then why not two, three, four or even five?

Ignore post traumatic stress disorders, vengeful survivors and any sort of thought at all really. Lets just say The Purge allows the rich to kill the poor, burn down their houses, the ghettos to become bloodbaths and inject a world class idiot into the mix in the form of Ethan Hawkes character shall we?


So, Ethan Hawke plays a home security salesman who has made a lot of money from his local area and is now top of the sales mountain. The system is essentially big steel shutters that close off the windows and doors of your house to the outside world. 'They a living in a box, living in a steel reinforced box'. These shutters roll down from between the internal and exterior walls, making your building one tough hombre to get into. The system is presumably expensive and so Mr Hawke lives in a gated area secure from the scum of inner city America.

Hawke by his shutters. See the thickness? Pulled off by a truck
His wife (Lena Headly; Last seen by me in Judge Dredd) is a housewife, loving mother and will prove herself throughout the script to be utterly useless. Ho hum. His kids are just as useless. His daughter has an older boyfriend who is pretty obviously a bit odd and Hawke classifies him as stereotypically the 'type she should stay from.' His son is a kid who likes gadgets and isn't a fan of the Purge at all. Mainly because its barbaric and ridiculous (you may have detected a certain commonality that we share?).

On the night of The Purge Hawke gets back just an hour before it starts. His wife puts some flowers outside their house (as do all the other women in the area) to show their support for The Purge. After all it has sorted their economy, probably removed the need for universal health care and dropped the unemployment down to 1 % as well. Obviously the cost in human lives and mental health is not an issue. Realistically their officials don't seem to give a fuck about mental health anyway so this film isn't that far removed from the truth in that respect.

A cooler poster.
Back to the film... Yes, Hawke switches on his security system when? Five minutes before The Purge. Yep. On the one night of the year that anyone can kill anyone else legally and some of the neighbours have been pretty threatening to his wife outside he waits till 6.55. They have dinner first. Oh God. Oh and he switches it on as his wife sits sweetly on the sofa, unable to press buttons or perhaps do anything of any use other than cook dinner. She probably does all the housework and smiles sweetly as she gets him a beer after his hard day (PLEASE FUCK OFF!).

The Purge is kicked off with a siren sounding and then you wait. Now do you wait by the security monitors and make sure no shit is about to go down or do you walk off and do some paperwork or perhaps 'watch a movie'? No, you'd stay by the station and make sure you didn't get killed. Hawke fucks off as does everyone else. His son sees on the monitors later that a man is in the street pleading for help and so punches in the code and opens the security system.

May I ask who showed him the code so he could nullify the expensive system? Was it the worlds stupidest security system salesman? Probably.

Man gets into the house, people point guns at each other and meanwhile upstairs daughters 'wild' boyfriend snuck in while they were having dinner and wants to go have a 'chat' with her dad... on murder night. 'Okay,' she says and puts on her headphones as I punch myself in the face as a means to escape the idiocy.

An attempt to evoke Manson like images?
Yes, boyfriend tries to kill Hawke, Hawke kills boyfriend, much screaming, homeless looking black dude hides in house. Later evil people come and want the dregs of society pushed out so they can murder him. Much bullshit ensues, man stays in house, evil rich kids outside get trucks and pull the steel from the windows and doors of the house (God this is stupid) and then enter.

Mayhem, blood, murder, and every stupid decission a character should never make in this situation is made from 'splitting up' to walking down the centre of the corridors to leaving someone tied up downstairs when they could obviously help you fight the evil privileged white Americans that have invaded the house.

Hiding under the bed?! Really?!
Are we shocked when the neighbours turn up to kill the intruders but have darker intentions themselves?! No. Are we stunned when homeless black dude comes and rescues the homeowner's from the neighbours? No. Are we surprised when Headly allows the neighbours to live as this 'Purge' thing is wrong? No.

The truth is there is tension in this film, there is menace but it feels like an atempt to make a clever video nasty. Loads of blurred shots of people being stabbed in the streets, some justification for killing people with axes, the neighbours ready to slaughter the kids of the Hawke so the Purge can release their anger. Sadly though it's all so obvious, all the characters are so dumb you wonder how they have survived this long? How?! How did Ethan Hawke's character not die putting on his trousers, or perhaps trying to win a 'running down the stairs backwards race' at work?

It could have been an excellent social commentary film on the idea of cathartic violence, of how the state sees the poor and weak as dead weight they wished they could just cut away. It could have challenged while delivering the gore but instead it is just a stupid, stupid, stupid film.

You will see worse films this year, filled with stupider characters and stupider plots. You will. But does that let The Purge off the hook?

No. No it doesn't.

I could go on for another thousand words but I won't. It was poor.



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