The Purge

movie, Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey

I was intrigued by the premise of The Purge, which states that for one night - twelve hours - any and all crime is legal, and emergency services as well as police will not be active. It brings to mind many questions: would you participate in the purge? If you did, would it be something simple, like stealing, or something more serious, like murder? And would you be nicer to your friends and neighbors during the year, knowing that they could get revenge on you that one night if you were not? The movie attempts to answer some of these questions, but unfortunately doesn't give as much back story as I would have liked.

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a security systems salesman, and sales leading up to March 2022, another yearly purge, have been great. He and his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), recently added an addition onto their home, and their two kids, Charlie and Zoey (Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane) are happy and healthy. They prepare to go into lockdown mode as they do every year for the purge, and they turn on the video cameras outside their home as well as their state-of-the-art security system. Everything is going fine until Charlie sees a man (Edwin Hodge) running down the street, yelling for help; Charlie decides to disable the security system and let him into their home. There's some Purgers that aren't too happy that they took away their "prey," though, and they're determined to get the man out of the Sandin house, at any cost.

Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey were good in this movie, although Hawke seems to be showing his age these days. The actor that captivated me most, however, was Rhys Wakefield, listed on IMDb as "Polite Stranger" but whom was very, very creepy. He's the main man behind the group trying to break into Hawke's home to retrieve the homeless man that they were hunting, and he does and says a lot of things that are uncomfortably weird.

Yes, see this movie, but it's more of a matinee film than a full-price one. Like I said, I wanted to learn more about the purge and why the U.S. started doing it; there's a group called the New Founders of America that came up with the idea for it, and in one scene they seemed to be almost like a cult, based on some of the characters' actions. It's explained that unemployment is now down to 1% and that the murder and crime rate have gone down greatly, but it's still unnerving to see live photo feeds of all of the mayhem that goes on during purge night, and Hawke and Headey's characters in the movie never actually participated in the purge until this year, when they found their hands forced. I rarely say this about a movie, but this film actually could have benefited from a longer runtime - it clocks in at 85 minutes and goes by very fast.

The Purge is in theaters today, June 7th, and is rated R with a runtime of 85 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.

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