Review of "The Purge (DVD)"

published 15/01/2016 | thedevilinme
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The Purge (DVD)

The Purge (DVD)

Star – Ethan Hawke
Genre – Sci-Fi/Horror
Run Time – 85 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Awards – 1 Wins & 8 Nominations
Amazon – £4.80 DVD £6.79 Blue Ray
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I think it’s fair to say the idea of a 12 hour purge where the good citizens of Great Britain could legally take out the bad people of Great Britain, by whatever means and weapons, would probably prove very popular, the central premise of the American film The Purge. In fact the gun crazy Americans are pretty much doing that anyway, some 123,327 gun deaths since 911 in America, no doubt the inspiration for this movie. As hard as Obama has tried to ban firearms this absurd right wing attitude persists in America that if they lose their guns then they somehow lose their liberty and so concede power to the federal government. For me their paranoia is really about the color of the President and the fear people like him are going to come and get them and their belongings. The reality is most of those guns are used by black and Latino people on black and black and Latino people in the ghettos and the only time they are not is when white farmers blow their own brains out.

Ethan Hawke as James Sandin
Lena Headey as Mary Sandin
Adelaide Kane as Zoey Sandin
Max Burkholder as Charlie Sandin
Edwin Hodge as (Dwayne) The Stranger
Tony Oller as Henry
Arija Bareikis as Grace Ferrin
Dana Bunch as Mr. Ferrin
Chris Mulkey as Mr. Halverson
Tisha French as Mrs. Halverson
Rhys Wakefield as Polite Leader-1
Tom Yi as Mr. Cali

The Purge

In the year of 2010s, "The New Founding Fathers of America", established a new anarchist, totalitarian government, following economic collapse. Using the 28th amendment of the U.S Constitution the government has established one night a year that’s called "the Purge", which occurs on the spring equinox of March 21 to 22, in which all crime is legal, and all emergency services remain in barracks over a 12 hour nighttime period, from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next day. The only rules are that no government officials with authorization levels of 10 and higher are to be disturbed or attacked, and all weapons above Class 4 (explosive devices such as grenades, rocket launchers, bazookas, etc.) are forbidden. The purge results in crime and unemployment rates plummeting to 1% and a strong economy. Although pitched as an act of catharsis for the U.S. populace, in reality, it is used as population control, as the workless, poor slum dwellers are usually the main targets.

The Plot

So, as the sirens go for the year of the 2022 ‘purge’ the wealthy Los Angeles citizens deploy their expensive shutters and security locks and bunker down for the night with guns at the ready. Anyone who can’t afford protection are the most likely to be purged, especially on racial grounds.

The affluent Sandin family of dad James (Ethan Hawke), wife Mary (Lena Headey), 16-year-old Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and little Charlie (Max Burkholder) have mixed views on ‘The Purge’. James and his wife agree with it in principal and good for America but don’t go out purging. Charlie is the conscious of the family and doesn’t understand why the killing should happen. Zoey likes cute boys and her mobile phone.

As the nights deadly black claw stretches its cloak of death over America the body count rises across the 50 states as national TV goes Purge crazy. James monitors the streets outside with his security cameras and sensors to protect his family. Dad has made his healthy living by running a company that sells security equipment for the annual Purge. No wonder he backs it. But this will be no normal Purge for the family as little Charlie spots a black ‘down and out’ guy (Edwin Hodge), Dwayne, on the CCTV being chased by a mob and lets him into the house, much to his father’s alarm. But he is not the main threat in the house right now as Zoey’s boyfriend (Tony Oller) has snuck in just before the shutters went down and feels like killing her dad, ending only one way.

Outside a mob of young educated people straight out of Clockwork Orange casting have gathered and demanding the black guy so they can kill him. No harm will come to the Sandin family if they hand him over for his certain death. It seems an easy choice. But James also has an attack of conscious and questions himself, deciding to make a stand on The Purge of 2022, his wife right behind him and not letting the guy go. That means the gang leader (Rhys Wakefield0 is coming in so time to lock n load.


This is one of those films most people watch for the violence alone, aimed at a younger crowd, however it’s rated or promoted. It sounds like their computer games and so I’ll have some of that mate. For just $3 million dollars it did $64million back from those delinquents and so great business. They did the sequel for just $9 million bucks last year and that did a mind boggling $111 million. Maybe we should purge cinema chief execs?

The biggest surprise here is 4 time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke, a really nervy but interesting actor who does crisis of confidence roles well. But he also picks some stinkers and that has held back his career. Leo Di Caprio, a far lesser talent, also has four Oscar nominations but look at his stratospheric career. There is something about these Texan actors that disconnects them from the mainstream career path, Mathew McConaughey another one who doesn’t really care what the script does as long as it pays. Hawkes filmography is mixed.

The film starts off well with adequate tension and disquieting transformation from normal everyday L.A work and play routine to this foreboding night to come. But once the shutters come down the action remains in and around the Sandin residence, presumably to save money, and that’s were the film remains and so stagnates. I was expecting a much more ambitious film full of ideas, locations and snappy writing the way Zombieland worked so well. Instead we got this rather claustrophobic misfire that turned a great chance to make some strong political points about modern day America into a straightforward ‘he is behind you’ slash and dash horror.

It’s violent but not sadistic and does make some political points and has a decent twist. The race card played early suggests the film to come and the over-the-top mob outside and the premise set in contemporary America (saving money again) distracts from the idea. It looks like 2015 because it is 2015. The anarchist, totalitarian government run America would not look like this. But it not as dull or bad as the critics say and the script executed the best way it could be. It just lacked scope and ambition and a wasted opportunity. I’m sure the writer panned it to be something else on screen but that would have targeted a different, smarter and smaller demographic and so less takings for the multiplexes. If you want to see the film this should have been then watch the original Funny Games from Denmark, a superb film on social class, violence and middle-class conditioning.

RATINGS – 5.6/10.0 (124,526votes) –38% critic’s approval – 41% critic’s approval
Leonard Maltin Film Book 2015 – 3/4


Special Features



Cinema Crazed –‘One gigantic missed opportunity’.

The Mail –‘ Half social allegory, half home-invasion thriller, The Purge attempts to use thriller formula to make an intelligent point—but ultimately only ends up sinking in numbing violence and tired cliches’, – ‘There might be true satire here, but it would take a far less bored reviewer than me to pick away at the flab surrounding’ the satire.

Cinemaphile –‘An effective balance of mood and style, not overburdened by grotesque displays of violence but suggestive enough to create a space of believable bleakness that warrants our continued interest until the very last frame’.

Reel Reviews...’a rather ludicrous premise that's employed to persistently underwhelming effect by writer/director James DeMonaco...’

The Verge –‘ It starts off strong but is ultimately neither scary nor smart enough to kick off the kind of thought-provoking conversations it so clearly wants to be part of’’.

The NY Times-‘You won't believe that any part of it is even remotely plausible, but you'll go along with it enough to get a few thrills’.

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Comments on this review

  • hiker published 07/03/2016
  • Secre published 19/01/2016
    Nicely done
  • euphie published 17/01/2016
    vh :o)
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Product Information : The Purge (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Classification: 15 years and over

Actor(s) (Last name, First name): Lena Headey, Ethan Hawke

DVD Region: DVD

Director(s) (Last name, First name): James DeMonaco

Production Year: 2012

Title: P

EAN: 5050582953589


Listed on Ciao since: 01/08/2013