Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Purge - 2 stars

Set in some kind of fascist America in the year 2022, crime is lower than ever.  Unemployement and poverty are almost gone, and once a year crime is legal for 12 hours.  The way it's explained to people is that it's in our nature to be violent, and if we have one day a year to let it all out, then we will be better behaved the rest of the year.

This is an interesting concept, and I could see it being used for a fun, violent grindhouse type movie.  Something like Death Race 2000, Running Man, or even Hunger Games.  What would this kind of society be like?  What would you do if anything was legal once a year?

The problem is instead of having fun with this concept and seeing what happens out in the streets, the entire movie takes place inside one house.  Ethan Hawke and his family have the house sealed up and plan on staying inside all night until the purge is over.  For reasons I won't say, people eventually get into the house and it becomes a simple home invasion story. 

The movie spends too much time building up to the purge.  After all this buildup, nothing happens for a good 20-30 minutes.  It's only the last half hour or so that stuff starts to happen.  It doesn't really make much sense for the best home security system around, built specifically to keep a family safe from intruders, would be so easy to get around.  Once the bad guys show up and say they are going to get in, Ethan Hawke tells his wife that yes, it won't be very hard for them to break in. 

Mild spoilers (which won't really hurt your enjoyment of the movie) - what was the daughter's boyfriend's plan?  He hides inside the house, has a gun, and waits until the house is locked up before he goes to tell her dad that he loves her?  Why did he bring the gun?  I thought he was positioning himself inside the house so he would be able to terrorize the family once the purge began.  Was his plan to kill Ethan Hawke?  It wasn't clear what his intention was, since he confronts the dad at the same time the homeless guy gets in.  There is a quick shootout, the homeless guy is loose somewhere, and the boyfriend is dead.  It seems like that was really pointless.  They could have removed the boyfriend character and it wouldn't have affected the movie at all.

Also, once the parents know that their home is about to be invaded, they do the dumbest things imaginable.  They don't try to make any kind of plan.  They don't go find a good place to fight from.  They don't even stay together, to watch each other's backs.  They could have started shooting the bad guys as soon as the door was open.  But no, they let the invaders walk in, they split up, and walk around the darkened house with guns, hoping to shoot first. 

I was bored and annoyed by this movie.  Bored because it's mostly setup with very little payoff, and annoyed because they could have done so much more with this premise.  Hopefully there will be a direct to DVD sequel that will have some balls, which this movie doesn't.

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