In an America ravaged by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government sanctions an annual 12-hour period during which all criminal activity — including murder — is legal. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family face the ultimate test when an intruder drags the vicious outside world into their home. James, Mary (Lena Headey) and their two children struggle to survive the night while trying not to turn into monsters like the ones they are striving to avoid.
This review contains spoilers, read on at your own risk.
I know we were super late to the party on this one, but it feels like a good series to start given how hard they are advertising the release of the Purge prequel. After all the hype this series got, I had fairly high expectations but was incredibly disappointed. My final score is 5.4, which is in the range of “watch while you are doing something else”.
The good: The premise is absolutely fantastic. It plays into humanity’s most animalistic urges in a creative and trailblazing way.
The bad: Ian and I found ourselves repeatedly yelling “what the fuck are you doing Ethan Hawke?!” For some reason, having a star like Mr. Hawke really took us out of the world of the movie. That only became more prevalent when Circe Lannister showed up with a truly genuinely distracting black wig. The family as a whole was pretty terrible. Between the daughter who wanted to bang her psycho boyfriend but spent the majority of the movie just running around the house stressing everybody out and the creepy aspergers son, we had a hard time getting attached to anyone in particular. The only remotely interesting part of the family is that creepy burnt up doll drone that the son uses to scout around the house. I mean, there’s your movie. Fuck the whole purge thing. Just have that creepy doll walk around and kill people. already 1000 times better than their final result.
The classic stereotype about horror movies that non-horror fans consistently bring up is that the characters act like morons, which keeps you as a viewer from pitying them. This movie does not lend itself to being a counter to that perspective. Honestly, it seems to hit every possible cliche in 90 minutes. “Hey guys, let’s split up,” is quickly followed by a series of action scenes until everyone is able to meet up again. Every time a character disappeared for a while, it meant that they would soon reappear at a critical moment to either save or ambush the others. It was utterly predictable throughout and that is one of my biggest pet peeves about any movie.
The only genuinely solid acting performance was the lead villain played by Rhys Wakefield. He was seriously creepy and reminded me, if only briefly, of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight Rises. There is something really terrifying about a smiling psychopath, especially one who says exactly what he is going to do before he does it (and actually follows through). Of course, this movie being as bad as it was, they ruined even that good performance by killing him off in the most anti-climactic way possible.
All in all I can’t recommend this movie, but I’ve heard that the other movies are better so I’m sure I’ll give this series another try.