The Purge - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Purge Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 24, 2015
Couldn't agree more with the critic consensus.
Super Reviewer
½ August 1, 2014
What comes up as a thought-provoking allegory that doesn't shy away from the sociopolitical implications of its premise soon gets lost in a last half hour that falls flat with a ridiculous excess of dei ex machina and reduces the Purge to what seems like a laughable sect.
Super Reviewer
December 11, 2013
You will go into The Purge intrigued by its premise and you will leave very disappointed.
In a futuristic America, the new government (called the Founding Fathers) has managed to eliminate murder and unemployment by making all crime legal for one night each year. The logic is that this night of "purging" allows us to let loose our animalistic nature as well as letting the poor, less contributing members of society kill each other off.
The film does not expand on these concepts, leaving much to be desired. It'll be too easy for critics to expose all of its flaws as a plausible system. Instead, the plot devolves into a standard home invasion movie that is predictable and populated with really, really stupid characters.
The Purge is an example of taking a cool set up and turning it into cliche, forgettable crap.
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2013
Cliches around every corner, "The Purge" tries very hard to be original, but in the end, it's clever twist on the genre that the trailers make it out to be, kind of falls flat, with hardly any suspense or genuine terror throughout the film. Ethan Hawk is a great actor, so the film is held together well performance-wise, but the script is so simple and uninspired that the plot of the film is completely shit on in the final act. There is hardly any development as to why this "Purge" happens every year and by the end, anything that has been set up in the first two acts is completely ruined. Once the third act kicks off, moments that are supposed to be intense have no suspense, and sad moments happen in an instant and then move on to something else, leaving you no time to cope. Once the killers get possession of the home, the entire film pretty much goes downhill. This movie has LAME written all over it. The idea is interesting but that is all I will remember this for, just a missed opportunity, and the final 10 minutes will have you laughing, unintentionally. "The Purge" is a bad film that had the potential of being great in the right hands.
Super Reviewer
April 14, 2013
A very sharp and shockingly unpredictable edge of your seat thriller. One of the most utterly original and unrelenting thrillers in years, it grabs your like you wouldn't believe with its story and sadistic nature and some great performances from its cast. It's ineradicably tense, wickedly suspenseful and explosively action-packed. A darkly entertaining and riveting movie that's exhilarating and intensely terrifying from start to finish. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey are excellent. Rhys Wakefield is sensational, he gives a standout performance and proves to me an exceptional talent.
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2014
Not bad. Not great. Too many unanswered questions. Good premise, but weak plot...
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
½ December 25, 2013
The saddest thing about "The Purge" is that at its core is an interesting idea that could have made for a compelling film. Instead the filmmakers opted for a predictable by-the-numbers thriller that relied on heavy coincidences, stupid character choices and superficial motivations to drive the plot forward.
Super Reviewer
December 12, 2013
James DeMonaco runs with an intriguing concept in The Purge.With a storyline that involves violence and more violence, by the time the brief 80 minutes are up, the concept of The Purge ends up not as unique as it starts out. With that said, the plot details pile up into a watchable thriller.Despite what the marketing portrays this film as, the violence is far from brutal when it comes to blood and guts. There is enough violence to warrant an R-rating, but it does not play out as the bloody massacre as it has the potential to be.Ethan Hawke is enough of a lead, but is overshadowed by the performances of Lena Headey and Rhys Wakefield. Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, and Edwin Hodge fill up minutes as required.The Purge ramps up the suspense; however, it doesn't do much more than that.
Super Reviewer
September 24, 2013
three stars
Super Reviewer
½ June 9, 2013
Some movies are intended to be "film" and some are simply a "movie", this is simply a movie. Anyone expecting more than what they get watching this movie deluded themselves before watching it. It delivers just what a movie of this genre should.
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2013
One night a year, all crime is legal.

Good movie! The concept is interesting, and has never been done before. While this movie was not as scary as I had anticipated, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. The antagonists were disturbing, and the movie really shows the struggle between self-preservation and what's right. It is somewhat short, but the makers certainly do get the job done. Plenty of flashlight-and-pistol standoffs and suspenseful scenes make for a movie with an interesting plot, and good acting.

In an America wracked by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour period in which any and all criminal activity-including murder-becomes legal. The police can't be called. Hospitals suspend help. It's one night when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment. On this night plagued by violence and an epidemic of crime, one family wrestles with the decision of who they will become when a stranger comes knocking. When an intruder breaks into James Sandin's (Ethan Hawke) gated community during the yearly lockdown, he begins a sequence of events that threatens to tear a family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide.
Super Reviewer
July 23, 2013
"The Purge", is one of the most amazing concepts for a movie in years! I absolute loved the idea of this. The movie itself was decent, but lackluster enough, that it didn't really capitalize on such an amazing concept. It isn't that I didn't like the typical and predictable action based plot of surviving a lock down, but, I really wish it would have expanded past one single families situation. The best way to wrap this movie up in a quick review is: A nearly perfect concept with a mediocre delivery of that concept.
The actors done well, the plot was ok written, but all in all it really could have been so much more. Still, I wouldn't let this stop you from checking the movie out, as it's worth a watch and it does get your head spinning about what a real purge might be like.
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
½ July 11, 2013
Sci-fi cautionary tales have been an outstanding way to provide commentary for contemporary anxiety. Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont, and the recently departed Richard Matheson were masters of this. A movie can make you think as speculative fiction while still following s thriller/horror blueprint to entertain the masses. And so writer/director James DeMonaco (Assault on Precinct 13, The Negotiator) wades into these waters with The Purge, a home invasion thriller that has a premise that, on the surface, might make you scoff. In 2022, the United States has practically solved unemployment and crime thanks to a nifty little holiday known as the Purge. Every year, for a twelve-hour window, law is rescinded and so are emergency services like police and firefighters. For those 12 hours, good American men and women are allowed to engage in just about every sort of crime up to and including murder. It's designed for people to release all their aggression and darker impulses, thus allowing for a safer, happier 364 and a half days a year.

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is the top salesman when it comes to hardcore home security systems, the kind with the thick metal doors over your windows and doors. He lives in one of those finely protected homes with his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), and children, Max (Max Burkholder) and Zoey (Adelaide Kaine). They're prepared for a long night behind barricades. Then a wounded black man (Edwin Hodge) runs through the cushy neighbor, crying desperately for help. Charlie offers him refuge inside the Sandin abode. Shortly after, a group of masked vigilantes, led by a lad who looks like Patrick Bateman, knock on the Sandin home. The bloody ma is their "bait," and these angry folk demand he be returned to them, or else they will be coming in and sparing no one.

This high-concept thriller is a well-crafted suspense piece, with several well-developed sequences that squeeze out tension. The premise involves some mighty suspension of disbelief but you'd be surprised how easy it is to accept and move on. The kids provide dissenting voices, mostly Charlie, and we get a lean history of the Purge and all the information we need to go forward, at least for this night. I liked how it's become a common passing greeting to say "Stay safe" to people on the day before the Purge. Little details like that make the world feel more thought out. I like that engaging in the Purge is thought of as one's patriotic duty. There are some tantalizing moments of dread as well, like a neighbor sharpening his killing tools outdoors. But really the movie comes down to its suspense, broken up into a series of different goals. James wants to protect his family and return the "bait," but first he needs to find him and subdue him. Charlie wants to save him and get to him first. It's your standard people-groping-in-the-dark kind of picture, but when given a strong sense of urgency and some good actors, it can be plenty suspenseful. DeMonaco does a fine job of making sure his story doesn't get too confusing, tasking the audience with keeping track of too many participants. So when we have Zoey's bad boyfriend (Tony Oller), he's dealt with before the manhunt begins. When the home invasion kicks in, the manhunt is over. When it looks like Zoey is heading straight for the stranger, it's a storyline that culminates very quickly. There's a good sense of clarity throughout The Purge, which aids the effectiveness of the thrills.

For the first half of the movie, things snap together well enough that you just accept the premise and its implications, forgoing the nitpicks that wait. It isn't until the third act where you start to disengage from the film and pick it apart. As a cautionary tale, it has some interesting ideas about class warfare; the main villain is right out of Ayn Rand's Objectivist playbook. But the ideas and moral commentary fade as the movie becomes more a standard, albeit effective, suspense thriller. I really appreciated the argument that unemployment is so low because the Purge takes care of the sick, homeless, and poor and disadvantaged, those chiefly who cannot defend themselves and are easily targeted. It's an eerie extreme that doesn't feel too many steps removed from the last presidential election where Republican primary debate audiences cheered the hypothetical death of the poor. But then the nitpicks do come and once they do it's like a rushing tide that cannot be stopped. Why do people have stockpiles of guns but no bulletproof vests and gear? Why wait for the bad guys to get in when you and your armed, well-defended family in your home fortress can preemptively strike? Why would you order the Sandin family to return your "bait" and then turn off their power? Doesn't that make it much harder? Why would killing your girlfriend's father win her over? Do you think she's really still going to be your girlfriend after that? How big is this house that people get lost in it constantly? Who hides under the bed in this day and age? And, when hiding from intruders who wish to kill you, why in the world would you keep your flashlight on?

It's late in this last act that the film tries to go one step too far. The home invasion commences, the struggles are pretty dandy to watch with some creepy imagery, and then DeMonaco has to go beyond that, introducing a secondary set of antagonists that at once feel obvious and poorly set up. The family asks, befuddled, why these new antagonists are doing what they're doing, but they, and you, will not get a straight answer. It's really designed to be shocking and little else, and so it feels tacked on and unnecessary. The last ten minutes of the film fumble the momentum of the movie. It's a stumble at the finish line and leaves some lingering doubt as you assess the effectiveness of the whole movie.
So the premise begs the question: what would you do with a lawless 12-hour window? I think most human beings would be too timid to embrace their animal side. Morals and ethics factor in, naturally, but really I think it's just good old fear, the fear that anyone else can snuff you out with impunity, and engaging in the Purge also makes you a target. I think most people would probably try and engage in heists, but then the bank would be crawling with twenty different heist teams squabbling over who gets the loot. The banks would also surely increase their security astronomically.

The premise, while intriguing, also permeates with scads of ambiguity. Purge hours are from 7 PM to 7 AM, but what if you're in the midst of committing a crime and go over the window? To use the bank robbery example, what if you get the money but fail to leave the bank by 7 AM, or even have? At that point, are you considered a criminal? Does the money go back to being counted as stolen goods or if it was pilfered during Purge hours it doesn't count? Then there are the psychological ramifications of said Purge. If your neighbor raped your wife, Scott-free, you cannot tell me that vengeance isn't going to play a key part in next year's Purge. Seeing that face every day, acting "neighborly" while knowing what happened, plotting, waiting, and while the rapist neighbor prepares for the attack as well. Actually, that sounds like a pretty decent sequel (you can have that one for free, Blumhouse). How much Purge-related violence is just retaliatory vengeance? How do people stay in this country? If I as rich and could afford a super pricy security system, perhaps I'd rather take a weekend getaway to Canada instead. Or just stay for good.

The Purge is an effective little thriller until it isn't, which thankfully only unravels in the concluding ten minutes or so. Until then, DeMonaco gooses his film with enough scares and thrills to justify a sitting, leaving an audience mostly satisfied until they exit and start to pick the film's nature apart. I would have liked a bit more moral inquiry, political commentary, and some headier looks into these New Founding Fathers running the country, but I was satisfied with the suspense thriller I got. It's modest, proficient, and well developed with its suspense, so I can't be too picky. Then again, with this premise, The Purge could have been a lot more than what it is, a lot more disturbing and a lot more contemplative. But I'll settle for effective and call it a day.

Nate's Grade: B-
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2013
A brutal movie, that entertains but an average movie at best there is room for improvement but greatly acted and enjoyable! A fantastic concept just not fantastically executed!
Super Reviewer
½ June 23, 2013
Horror films have been fairly hit and miss this year. Only a few genre films have been worth checking out. The remake of Maniac was great, but the problem was, it was a remake, it covered an old idea. However with The Purge, we get something truly interesting in terms of effective horror. This is an original and truly disturbing film with good performances, effective chills and a good story. The Purge is a surprising treat for horror fans that are disappointed in many of the films that have come out. The film is surprisingly underrated, and though it could have been rewritten to add more depth to its concept, this is an accomplished horror film that succeeds at delivering what genre fans want out of a movie. There are some good performances here as well, and it makes for one of the most thrilling horror films of the year. If you've been disappointed at some of the horror films that have come out this year, The Purge is disturbing and works well enough for its short run time, but you come to realize how good the film could have been with a bit more depth to its story. Despite this, this is still a good horror film, one that is memorable and thrilling, but does fall short of what it could have been in the long run. If you want something different, then this is the film to see. With an interesting idea for a plot, The Purge is a worthwhile film to watch and it doesn't deserve the negativity it has received. Yes, it is a film that could have been improved upon, but overall is a riveting film that is overlooked and delivers impressive chills.
Super Reviewer
May 30, 2013
Absolutely AWFUL movie. The movie is I guess supposed to be scary, but honestly we were laughing more than anything. The story line and writing was HORRIBLE. Absolutely horrible. What the people said, what they did was so stupid and ridiculous. The movie is about a home invasion and everyone is trying to kill the family and it's really really funny. If they were going for a comedy then I think they nailed it. The ending scene is by far the stupidest most ridiculous scene I have ever seen in a movie. I don't want to spoil it but I will anyway so stop reading if you don't want to know. At the end after the neighbors try to kill the family, the mother forces everyone to sit at the table and says that no more violence will happen tonight and that she will let the neighbors go after the purge is over. So the ending scene is literally them sitting at a table waiting for the purge to end so they can go home. Like the dad already got killed and the mom is just letting the neighbors chill in her kitchen. The movie was so stupid. The writing was just so bad. I can't even explain to you how terrible this movie is. The acting wasn't so bad, but the writing was just the worst I have ever come across. Like I suck at writing but I could've come up with a better script than the shit they were working with in this movie. Avoid this movie, unless you want to see a really bad movie and need something to laugh at. It's a really funny comedy, but awful awful horror movie or whatever the hell kind of movie they were trying to make.
Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2013
The film itself was well acted, but the best part of this film was Rhys Wakefields performance. Edwin Hodge too deserves credit for making his character believable.
The beginning of the film has an eerie tone to it. Knowing the premise of the film, the neighbors are a little too nice and a little too fake for comfort. In fact the director should have counted on the viewers having advanced knowledge of the movie and left some subtlety to their interactions.
The violence level exceeds that of a typical suspense movie and seems to bleed into more of an action flick. Although the premise of the film will remain memorable for years, aside from a few sequences, most of the film is both expected and ordinary.
Super Reviewer
June 13, 2013
Very split on this movie, which usually doesn't happen that often. One of the most disappointing things to happen to movies, in my opinion, is when movies begin with truck loads of potential and then tank from there. The Purge is an example of that. For starters, the movie is and feels very short....rushed at many points. I could write an essay on how the movie could have been improved, but it would be a waste of time. All in all, great concept but poor execution.
Super Reviewer
June 12, 2013
Interesting story line, but somewhat predictable.

A family prepares for "purge night", they go on about their daily routines, when the son helps out a stranger calling for help. He lets him in the house and that's when all the trouble starts. The family fights for their lives until "purge night" ends.
Super Reviewer
½ June 9, 2013
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