Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Purge

Description from IMDB:
In the future, a wealthy family is held hostage for harboring the target of a murderous syndicate during the Purge, a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized.

I think I'll go ahead and put a blanket SPOILER WARNING at the top here, since a lot of the problems I have with this get into spoiler territory.

First off, I'll say that I love the concept of this movie.  The idea of a world where all crime is legal for one night is a pretty fun idea to play around with.
However, I have a major issue with the idea behind that concept.  The idea is that unemployment rates and crime rates are down because people can go bonkers 12 hours a year.  There's no way it would work out that way.  If people want to kill/rob/vandalize, they won't wait all year for a 12 hour window to do it.  They'll just do it.
For example, look at the main invader, known only as The Polite Stranger.  He is obviously wealthy, and he mentions that he and his compatriots are well-educated.  He's also a psychopath.  It's foolish to assume that his bloodlust (and that of his Purge-buddies) will be sated for an entire year just because he kicked a couple drifters to death one night.  That's not how this works.

As was depicted, it looks as though the majority of people taking advantage of "Purge Night" were out there for killing.  Which makes sense.  Perhaps you're just a normal fella who wants to pee in public without being fined for it.  You're not going to risk that when there are rich kids with automatic weapons running around the neighborhood.  Which brings up this issue: those people with the urge to get into some petty crime for the evening won't be indulging that urge, as they don't want to be murdered.  Those people won't be purging themselves that evening, which means they'll probably indulge that urge at some other time and hope they don't get caught.

The deeper you find yourself digging, the less sense it all makes.

That's not to say this entire movie was terrible, nonsensical trash.  Because it wasn't.  There were quite a few really cool parts.  I loved the opening, where we see the violence of the Purge as shown by surveillance cameras.  It gave me context and scope for what was to come.  Even though most of this movie played out as a home invasion movie, it showed that this was just one incident among thousands (millions?).  It took a huge idea and pared it down to a single incident, while still giving us a taste of what the rest of America looked like.  It was a jarring way to start a movie, but it was extremely effective.  I'm hoping to see more of this in The Purge 2: Lost in Yonkers.
My favorite scene was the nonchalant way the next door neighbor was sharpening his machete a few hours before the start of the Purge.  Big fan of that guy.  I really wanted to follow him around for the evening and see what shenanigans he got himself into.

In the end, this was a claustrophobic home invasion movie.  In a movie with limited characters, a lot hinges on how I feel about the main characters.  And they were terrible here.  The acting wasn’t bad, but the characters were extremely unlikable and made some awful decisions.  I didn’t like a single one of them.  More than any of my other complaints, this is really what killed this movie for me.

Not terrible.  Not great.  A good concept, but not really anything interesting done with it.  It’s worth catching if you don’t have anything better to do for 80 minutes, but don’t rush out to watch this.

Rating: 2/5