Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Too soon. A mere fortnight after "Before Midnight," I'll have to pretend Ethan Hawke never starred in a vile piece of dreck called "The Purge." That way my beautiful memories will remain untainted by the commonness and meanness of this horror movie without scares, this thriller without thrills, this concept movie whose concept may be the dumbest in movie history.
In the America of the movie's future, violent crime and its attendant societal blights have been virtually eradicated. This has been achieved by legalizing murder, mayhem, and assault for a twelve-hour period one night each year, the Purge, in which citizens may release their basest instincts and thereby coexist peacefully the remainder of the time. And how far into the future does "The Purge" take place? Not a hundred years hence, nor even fifty. No, it is set in 2022, the equivalent of a 2004 film predicting that murder would be legal today. The idea is so ludicrous, the viewer can never accept or get beyond it.
Ethan H. (no, too obvious; let's call him E. Hawke) plays James Sandin, a successful salesman of high-tech home security systems who believes that his gated community and lockdown products will keep him, his wife (Lena Headey) and their kids safe on the night of the Purge. His sense of security falters when young son Charlie (Max Burkholder) takes pity on a destitute black man being chased by Purgers, deactivating their system and letting the man enter their garage. James' security is shattered when the Purgers follow soon thereafter, vowing to use battering rams and whatever else they must to get at the "homeless swine." You can write the rest from there.
What you can't know is what bad shots these folks are; I can't remember seeing so many point-blank gunshots missed in less runtime (the filmmakers shot 80 minutes and called it a wrap). It's also hard to imagine how queasy and racist the movie feels, how vapid its attempts at class-warfare social commentary, how repetitive and boring it plays, how little actually happens. "The Purge" offers nothing to the moviegoer but a guilty conscience and some cheap gore. It's about as fresh and exciting as the old bloody thumb gag.