‚??Bad things can happen tonight, but we can afford protection,‚?Ě says James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) to family ‚?? wife Mary (Lena Headly) and kids Zoey and Charlie (Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder). It‚??s March 21, 2022, government-sanctioned Purge Night when, for 12 hours, almost anything goes ‚?? police ignore crime, hospitals close and inner rage has free expression. Inside their fortress-like, gated-community McMansion, the Sandins are ‚?? they think ‚?? safe. That‚??s the setup for this would-be satiric thriller.
Can James Sandin protect his family? Who is ‚??Bloody Stranger‚?Ě (Edwin Hodge)? What does ‚??Polite Stranger‚?Ě (Rhys Wakefield) want? If these seem important questions, see ‚??The Purge.‚?Ě If not, don‚??t.
Actors may wish to purge ‚??The Purge‚?Ě from their resumes, but Ethan Hawke and Lena Headly as Jim and Mary Sandin do their best anyway. ‚??This night saved our country,‚?Ě says Jim, who earns big money selling expensive home-security systems to up-scale neighbors. Lena Headly as Mary endures put-downs from neighbors who resent the Sandlins‚?? new wealth. Not much chance for character development, as Hawke and Headly‚??s screen time is mostly creeping through the big, dark house with flashlights. ‚??Are you okay?‚?Ě they say.
Others in the cast include Edwin Hodge as ‚??Bloody Stranger,‚?Ě a homeless black man whom Charlie rescues from a street gang of ‚??hunters‚?Ě ‚?? led by Rhys Wakefield as ‚??Polite Stranger‚?Ě ‚?? who intend to kill poor, homeless people. ‚??We don‚??t want to kill our own,‚?Ě says the young leader. ‚??We just want to purge.‚?Ě Adelaide Kane and Max Burkholder are Zoey and Charlie.
‚??The Purge‚?Ě promises thrills and social satire, but doesn‚??t deliver much of either. Writer/director James DeMonaco imagines, less than 10 years from now, a ‚??reborn‚?Ě America, with new ‚??founding fathers‚?Ě and an annual purge that‚??s either a release valve for pent-up rage or open-season on homeless street people. A professor of sociology and public pundit puts it this way: ‚??Is the purge about releasing aggression or elimination of the poor and non-productive elements of the nation?‚?Ě The film suggests the latter. Thanks to the purge, we are told, crime has disappeared and the unemployment rate fallen to 1 percent. But social satire quickly gives way to conventional and not very convincing home-invasion thrills that come mainly from loud noises and creepy music on the soundtrack.
Rated R for strong, disturbing violence and language, ‚??The Purge‚?Ě runs just 85 minutes. See Stanley Kubrick‚??s satiric and smart ‚??Clockwork Orange‚?Ě (1971) for a more richly imagined violent, dystopian future.
Suppress the urge
To see ‚??The Purge,‚?Ě
Its satire‚??s dumb
And not much fun.