If ALL crime was legal one night each year, what would you do? Rob a bank? Kill your boss? Or, would you just lock down your home and ride it out? Most of us would choose the latter, I think. But, then, that wouldn’t make a great thriller.
This home-invasion story starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) takes place in 2022, when the United States is run by multi-national corporations known as the New Founding Fathers. All crime is declared legal, but only during a 12-hour annual event called The Purge. The wealthy have nothing to fear, since they have the tools to keep the evildoers out. But, the poor are fair game. By, eliminating the less fortunate and the sick, the U.S. economy made a tremendous comeback.
Hawke plays a well-to-do salesman, who makes his living off home security systems. His house boasts state-of-the-art protection, but as we all know, things can and often do go wrong during a horror movie. Some nasty rich kids in fright masks come calling, promising to kill Hawke and his family unless they surrender a homeless man admitted to the fortified house by Hawke’s son.
“The Purge” works initially as an exercise in suspense. Writer-Director James DeMonaco generates the chills and a bit of weirdness. But, the story falls apart near the end. No social allegory, ultimately, just an exercise in killing. Grade: B-