The Purge: Spend your money elsewhere

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comJune 6, 2013 

The Purge is set in 2022. We're a happy people. Government in the new version of the United States has solved all of the nation's problems. U.S. unemployment is 1 percent. Crime is nonexistent because once a year, revenge is legal for 12 hours. You can kill whomever you want, steal whatever you want, commit any crime you want. The only taboo is harming government workers.

Government workers? That made me laugh. Untouchable and unaccountable government workers sounds like today. Not knowing much about the movie, at that point I think maybe it's a documentary.

Or a comedy.

It's funny, but unintentionally. As the plot of the dull drama deteriorates, the unintended laughs pile up.

Ethan Hawke (Sinister) and Lena Heady (TV's Game of Thrones) are James and Mary Sandin. They live in a rich, gated community with children Zoey and Charlie. He sells purge-proof security systems. A lot of them are sold to envious neighbors.

The family's security system includes cameras on the street so they can keep an eye on purge activities. When the purge starts, the family settles in for the evening like it's a Christmas holiday or something. Dad's doing paperwork. Mom works out on the treadmill. The kids are in their rooms.

Then Charlie sees a homeless man running down the street begging for help. The boy takes pity on the guy and lets him into the house. That, and Zoey's banned boyfriend sneaking into the house before the purge, cause a violent crisis.

The moral of writer/director James DeMonaco's (TV's Crash and Kill Point) story is how a family of sheeples reacts once the reality of the purge becomes personal. Their children Charlie and Zoey see the injustice of the night. Mom and dad don't. The parents assure the children things are much better now because of the purge.

The view changes when well-dressed, preppy thugs on the street demand the homeless person be turned over to them to be brutally murdered. Turn the guy over, or everyone dies.

That brings the brutality of the purge home.

The Purge is an interesting premise with nowhere to go. Naturally, the lights fail, the homeless guy disappears in the corridor-filled mansion, the daughter -- upset by an incident with the BF -- runs off and can't be found. They worry the homeless guy will harm the daughter, and then the people on the street show up.

This particular purge is not a happy night.

Unbelievable violence follows. That is unbelievable in terms of not buying any of this. Every trick that has already been tried in this kind of movie is used. The characters do really stupid things. They have to because predictable actions that no one except characters in a dumb movie would do must to be done or the plot doesn't move forward.

Not that any movement in this bomb can be called forward.

Two positives. One, Lena Heady is so easy to watch. She's a very good and charismatic actress and is so wasted here. Two: Also wasted is Rhys Wakefield who plays the preppy thug. He's a great villain. More of him interacting with the family might have been fun.

Other than that, this is almost the dumbest movie in history. My recommendation is purge The Purge from your weekend movie plans.

Director: James DeMonaco

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Lena Heady, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield

Mr. Movie rating: 1/2 star

Rated R for violence, language and mature themes. It's playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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