Imagine America, 20 years from now, where one night every year, you are allowed to commit any crime, even murder, to purge yourself of every evil thought or intention you have, and get away with it. Because for those 12 hours, anything and everything, is legal. Evidently this has transformed the country into a much safer place with barely any unemployment, homelessness or crime, since it gets “purged” once a day every year.
This is the premise for “The Purge” starring Ethan Hawke as James, ironically an affluent security system salesman. His whole gated community neighborhood has bought his latest, and supposed iron-clad, “purge proof’ system. As sundown arrives, the security system is activated, James says goodnight to his wife (Lena Headey) and children, in hopes that the night will go smoothly.
But this wouldn’t be “scary” if nothing bad happens right? Trouble starts when the daughter’s teenage boyfriend shows up inside the house after the walls come down. Then, James’s son raises the security wall for a beaten up street-gang victim (Edwin Hodge) and the film takes a turn towards hints of A Clockwork Orange and Straw Dogs.
While strong performances are turned in by the entire cast, the film is very predictable. At this reviewer’s screening, laughter broke out during the supposed scary/violent revenge scenes. Entertaining? Yes. but probably best seen on a boring airplane flight, cable or Netflix.
Jonathan Clarke for Shelli Sonstein