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The Purge

By CURTIS WOLOSCHUK
It seems that giving America a “freebie” was the answer all along. Writer-director James DeMonaco's speculative thriller The Purge unfolds in a near future—March 21, 2022, if you want to add it to iCal—where politicians have stopped blathering about traditional values and have chosen instead to take their lead from more open-minded couples. Just as otherwise monogamous spouses will allow each other a one-night stand without repercussions, so too have the “New Founding Fathers” designated 12 hours a year during which all crime—including murder—is legal. Boasting its own tag line (“Release the beast!”), this annual cathartic “purge” has left the country practically crime-free for the remaining 364 days a year. It's also left some enterprising individuals incredibly wealthy. For instance, James Sandin (an unnervingly clean-shaven Ethan Hawke) has made a fortune opportunistically hawking security systems to the panicked residents of his gated community. When a gang of masked marauders (headed by preening Rhys Wakefield) arrives on James’ doorstep looking to raise hell, he is forced to confess that the defenses he peddles weren't designed for a “worst-case scenario.” Likewise, The Purge's dubious foundation can't withstand much scrutiny. DeMonaco belabors the film’s premise in the vain hope it will become more plausible, which also serves to underscore the flimsiness of his attempts at social commentary. When the defenses inevitably fall and a siege ensues, the melees that follow are perfunctory and poorly staged. Content simply to go through the motions, DeMonaco neglects to release the beast, leaving The Purge a sheep in Straw Dogs' clothing.
 
  • Genres: Action, Science fiction, Thriller
  • Release Date: Friday, May 31, 2013
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Critic's Score: C-
  • Starring: Ethan Hawke [James Sandin], Lena Headey [Mary Sandin], Rhys Wakefield [], Max Burkholder [], Adelaide Kane []
  • Directed by: James DeMonaco [Director], James DeMonaco [Screenwriter], Jason Blum [Producer], Michael Bay [Producer], Brad Fuller [Producer], Andrew Form [Producer], Sébastien Lemercier [Producer]
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