Movie Review: The Purge

The Purge (2013)

Language: English

Genre: Fiction, Thriller

Rating: NC16

Length: 1 hour 25 minutes

Director: James DeMonaco

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder, Edwin Hodge, Tony Oller, Rhys Wakefield, Arija Bareikis, etc.

Movie Poster

Description of the plot

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) specializes in selling home security equipment to the community in his neighborhood – these equipment are especially designed for *The Purge that is proven to block any possible entrance. Because of The Purge, he has made quite a fortune in the field he is doing.

*A day designated by the U.S. government in which ALL crimes are made legal for 12-hours and emergency services will be suspended during that period

Back at home, his family consists of himself, his wife – Mary Sandin (Lena Headey), daughter – Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and a son – Charlie (Max Burkholder). Their house is heavily-fortified with the security equipment. On the day of The Purge, the family commerce the lockdown after the Emergency Broadcast System message was announced on the national TV.

The Sandin family watches the events of the Purge unfold via the video monitors in the lounge. After awhile, Charlie is left alone and notices a stranger (Edwin Hodge) outside the house pleading for help. Charlie deactivates the security system and lets him in. The stranger then hides himself in the house whilst James and Mary goes off in search of the stranger.

Later, a group of masked attackers led by a man (Rhys Wakefield) approached their house in pursuit of the stranger which is hiding in there. The leader emphasizes that James’ family and the “Purgers” have common interests in The Purge and that they have no desire to hurt “their own people”. He also warned James not to impede their rights to purge – suggesting to him that he hands over the stranger or else they’ll kill his whole family.

Then, Charlie finds the stranger and leads him to a secret hiding place because he didn’t want his parents to find the stranger and then surrender him to the “Purgers”. Zoey, seeking to hide there as well, inadvertently stumbles into the stranger, who holds her at gunpoint. After a series of struggling, James and Mary seized the stranger and ties him up, subdue him, aggravate his wounds to keep him from moving and then initially planning to deliver him to the “Purgers” outside.

Eventually, the stranger sadly tells James to take him outside after seeing him with Zoey. However, the Sandins have a change of heart. Meanwhile, the group of masked attackers used many varieties of metal chains and a pick-up truck to tear down the metallic rails and walls to enter the household. The Sandins family is left to defend for themselves – watch to find out! [Source]

My review

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

While the movie is still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d do a review on it! Despite the poor ratings and critics this film has been getting – probably because it reflects U.S. in a negative lighting (even though I never see U.S. in that manner and personally when I watch the movie, it’s just an anonymous state / neighborhood to me, I don’t bear perceptions / judgement on any particular state), it’s still an insightful film!

If I was asked whether I believe that The Purge could happen in a couple of years time in 2021 / 2022, I think it is less than likely because the rationale that is used to justify for the necessity of The Purge is belittling the mindset of the government – considering that this was introduced because they stand the reason that “the poor, the homeless and the less-privileged people deserve to die because they’re leeching off the rest of us” and “The Purge [aka going around killing people you hate to release your bottled-up aggression] will make the world a better place”.

If Charlie had not open the gates for the stranger, would things have turned out different for the Sandins family? Do the “Purgers” genuinely mean they say by letting the family go IF the family delivered the stranger to them? James in the end has to be “sacrificed” for the stranger.

When the scene of James planning to deliver the stranger to the masked attackers played, I was asking myself whether I’d have done the same thing if I was James. My initial response was ‘yes i would’ because it has landed my family to this unfortunate state. But do I realize it’s the most selfish decision ever made and I’ll probably regret for life if the stranger died because no one was humane enough to help a fellow person from getting killed for nothing. How is it that the stranger doesn’t deserves to live while my family member(s) deserves it… If everyone was to mind their own business, wouldn’t the world be a more unkind place to live in?

James’ only regrets could be that he supported The Purge but he realized he shouldn’t have done that when he eventually did not deliver the stranger to the “purgers”. I don’t know if his decision to do so was a result of seeing his wife and children’s disappointment in him for his inhumane behavior, or either is it really due to him realizing his conscience?

I thought the term “hate” has been screwed in the movie itself! He had haters whom I don’t understand why they’d go to the extreme to purge on him. There was one particular scene where I remember that one neighbor telling his wife that everyone in the neighborhood is saying that the Sandins family’s home security is sort of “sponsored” by them which her husband had sold them in the first place. And that one neighbor turns out to be a “purger” towards the end.

They were the ones who chose to buy the security systems from him and they hated him for earning money off them? These neighbors claim to have kept all their feelings of aggression and hatred inside of them and are all waiting for this day to let it all out. And maybe he had been slightly more arrogant about his wealth than he should be. Do they hate him for supporting The Purge because it makes a great opportunity for him to make money out of this? Or do they simply hate him for flaunting his wealth and wanted to kill him because of a reason as simple as arrogance?

The terms “hate” and “kill” in the context of films and media used to only make me think of scenarios  where someone wants to avenge by killing another person because that person has caused him / her to lose something dearly – whether it’s parents / close ones, childhood, a result of a terribly bad experience, etc. But to go after someone’s blood because of negative feelings like… jealousy (?), is just over the top.

This film tells alot about human nature and whether anyone of us deserves to die more than the other because of mistakes we make or our social status? But there’re sure alot of gruesome and disturbing scenes – which involves slashing and blood spurting, magnified sounds of gunshots and knife-slitting-through-skin (if you’re watching it in the cinema), masked women wearing long pajamas dress and making weird, squeaky noises as they maneuver around the place with a knife in their hand, etc. There was so much tension going on when I was watching the movie because of the shooting and the shielding from the gunshots. Covered my ears most of the time… BUT I still do get the gist of the plot!

You can’t always trust the critics! The Purge has a fresh and original plot which none of the thriller movies I’ve watched so far depict this idea of legalizing all crimes on one day and showing how people cope with it. It’s no horror, ghostly movie as what the movie poster may portray, but a (high-level) thriller film!


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