The Purge - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Purge Reviews

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August 21, 2017
SCOTT: (Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond) Greg, we just satisfied our urge to see The Purge.

GREG: (Greg Smith, Founder of Agile Writers of Richmond, VA) It s a movie that binges along the fringes. Let s recap.

SCOTT: The story is set in the year 2022, and we are introduced to an upper-middle class family preparing for the annual 12-hour purge -- an annual ritual in which anyone can commit any crime with impunity from 7pm to 7am. The new founders of America have discovered that crime and unemployment have been almost non-existent ever since the purge was instituted, as the ritual apparently allows people a vehicle for getting their anger and violent urges out of their system. The family includes the dad, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), the mom, Mary (Lena Headey), a teenage daughter, Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and young son, Charlie (Max Burkholder).

GREG: The family s house isn t on lockdown for long when young Charlie hears a man calling for help. He opens the house and lets the man in to safety. Dad James is unhappy and unhappier still when a crowd of yuppie-purgers come to the door wearing masks and demanding their prey be released to them. They cut the power and send for equipment to break down the house s security doors. Now the stage is set with the family members hunting the man in their own home with the clock ticking before the purgers break in and take matters into their own hands.

SCOTT: Greg, I have several bones to pick with The Purge. First, the moviemakers get the science of emotional catharsis all wrong. The premise here is that committing acts of violence has a cathartic effect. Research in psychology indicates exactly the opposite. Violence only begets more violence. Anger leads to more anger, aggression breeds more aggression. This is the second time in the last few weeks that the movies have gotten a psychological phenomenon all wrong. Two weeks ago we reviewed After Earth, which portrayed human emotion incorrectly. I gave that movie a pass for missing the boat, but if bad science is becoming a pattern in the movies then maybe I need to get tougher in my evaluations. The Purge is telling us something very wrong about what inhibits human aggression. To me, that s a pretty glaring error and maybe even a dangerous one to be presenting to movie audiences.

GREG: Scott, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. It harkens back to the early days of The Twilight Zone where social commentary is made by putting current events into a future setting. And I think you may have missed the point of the film. The catharsis is merely an excuse for violence. In fact, the actual purge is the wonton execution of the have-nots at the hands of the haves. There were other indications that this was more than a chance at debauchery (like Mardis Gras, for example). We heard radio reports of people planning to kill their lousy bosses. The Purge gives citizens good reason not to offend people around them. James, the dad in the story, sells home security systems. He s sold one to nearly all of his neighbors. In this affluent neighborhood the haves are safe inside their locked fortresses. While out in the real world people have to hope for the best. Meanwhile, the yuppie-purgers (led by a very scary Rhys Wakefield) feel it is their God-given American right to hunt down and kill those who are a burden on society. I was reminded of Stanley Kubricks A Clockwork Orange where the affluent young men of society went on a rampage just for kicks.

SCOTT: I don t think I missed the point at all. The Purge is far more than the government promoting a war against the have-nots. Clips of violence in all sorts of settings during the Purge suggest that violence is occurring in convenience stores, parking garages, and workplace settings. It s not simply class warfare. It s people of all types killing people of all types. The movie even shows the upper class killing each other. I will admit that the concept of the Purge does set up a scary story. The second major issue I had is with the stupidity of the dad giving the home security code to his 11-year-old son, who of course mis-uses it and sets in motion the disaster that befalls the family. That s not a minor problem. It s about a hundred times worse than giving your son the key to the gun cabinet or the password to your bank account. I also had a problem with the daughter not realizing immediately that someone in her bedroom, whose appearance is a total surprise, is there to do harm to someone. Are we supposed to believe that she can t make the connection between this surprise guest and the fact that it s Purge Night? Only if her IQ is in single digits.

GREG: Scott, I chalk that up to the fact that the writers of The Purge needed to show immediately that Purge Night is real and dangerous. And that James is willing to kill and do more than hide behind his security system. But I can t argue the concept of the young boy, Charles, knowing the security code. Unlike you, I was happy to let this slide as it was necessary for the vagrant to enter the home and create the problem that the cage works both ways: it can keep evil out and it can lock evil in. This was a very smart movie - far more than just a typical hack and slash thriller. It posed a lot of questions about the world we live in today. Should only the rich be safe in their homes? Are the laws of our society weighted in favor of those who have? And how far would you go to keep your family safe?

SCOTT: I agree with you that the movie makes us think about the reasons why people refrain from killing others -- do they show restraint because killing is wrong? Or because they d go to prison? I also very much liked the very powerful and very creepy villain in this story. He had exactly the right lines and right delivery to haunt us with a deep sense of fear and foreboding. We knew he was pretty much capable of performing the most heinous evil act. And with a smile on his face, too. Beyond those two things, I didn t care much for the film. It didn t help that the ending was extremely predictable. I wish I could see more of the positives that you saw, Greg. But I didn t.

GREG: That s alright, Scott. I enjoyed the opportunity to look into the souls of these characters without a lot of blood and gore. I also appreciated the Hero s Journey in this film. James suffers a crisis of conscience and must make a choice between the safety of his family and doing the right thing. I felt the tension and suspense in the film. For a thought-provoking look at our culture flash-forwarded to the near-future, I give The Purge 4 Reels out of 5. And for a mildly successful heroic message, I give it 3 out of 5 Heroes. Movie: Hero:

SCOTT: For me, The Purge was based on a faulty premise and featured a scary situation that was set in motion by two unbelievable acts of stupidity on the part of the hero, James, and the teen daughter, Zoey. It also featured a very predictable ending that left me unsatisfied. Very generously, I award this film 2 Reels out of 5. Greg, the hero story was better than the movie. I agree that James is on a great journey in this film and that he discovers things about himself, and about life, that transforms him and his family in ways that he could never anticipate. I also give it 3 out of 5 Heroes. Movie: Hero:
August 16, 2017
The Purge has a great premise and a few genuinely scary moments, but it's brought down by unrelatable characters, poor writing, confusing editing, and far too many cliches.
½ August 8, 2017
Creepy, disturbing, really enjoyed it.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2017
seen it all before done better i.e. clockwork orange, funnny games.
½ July 31, 2017
Some good twists but I think I'm just not a Purge movie fan
July 15, 2017
Taken a while to get round to this film. Was keen on seeing it, but missed it at the cinema.
Overall...it was..well...just ok.
The concept is fantastic and opens up all sorts of moral and philosophical questions.
Does a better, safer America for the rest of the year justify the single night of wrong? Can murder ever be justified?
It is definitely survival of the fittest over a very long night as James (Ethan Hawke) and his family are besieged by a group of young, bloody thirsty 'purgers'. The impression is that this group relish the killing as a hobby rather than an opportunity to cleanse their souls..as is the purpose of the hellish event.
The cast is fairly solid. A very believable turn from Lena Headey as the distraught (but petty badass) mother. Also a delightfully creepy performance from Rhys Wakefield as the leader of the purging gang. All psycho smiles and politeness. Keen to see him in other roles. The cinematography is also very good, inkeeping with the low lighting, slow camera movements and subtle editing of your modern horror.
Where this film lets itself down is it's predictability. I second guessed the plot at every single turn and so nothing surprised me (excluding a few 'wtf' moments here and there).
A brilliant idea for a film and nicely shot...just nothing special.
½ July 11, 2017
An interesting concept that fails due to dumb decisions. If it only happens in the United States, why not just go somewhere else? Not recommended
July 5, 2017
A very original concept that gets held back by taking place in one setting and relying on cliches. The home invasion aspect made for a few thrilling scenes, but ultimately felt like, "that's it?"
June 17, 2017
looks great but the idea of crime being legal to improve crime rates is the stupidest thing ive heard ever
½ June 6, 2017
What ruins this movie is the fact that it all could have been avoided if the kid didn't open up the door. That is about all you miss is a family not wanting to get killed on a night everything is legal because their asshole kid let someone in. This movie lacks in being scary, bloody or a suspense. It is also very predictable on how it ends.
½ May 24, 2017
how ever grounded its concept maybe the purge is not thrilling the acting is dull with the exception of Ethan Hawk a film of disappointment
April 26, 2017
Average flick - Interesting concept... done on a small scale, I guess that's what the 2nd & 3rd installment are for (see on a larger scale & get more of a view of how others handle the yearly event) - I'll be watching the next chapters of it soon... Good flick for those that like a mold suspense flick.
April 24, 2017
The Purge was the most accurate representation of a world without religion to keep the psychopaths from doing what their first instinct says them to do in case of a conflict without an exit
½ April 21, 2017
I had kind of hoped this would be good. It started off interestingly enough. The build up had potential and then it just failed to deliver.
½ March 31, 2017
Una mierda innecesaria.
½ March 12, 2017
I could rip this franchise as a whole all day long, but let's stick to the basics. Ex machina out the wazoo, recycled cliches, and questionable direction leads this movie to the bottom of the barrel. It almost felt a rehash of the far superior film The Strangers. The only difference being hey we are trying to make a statement directed to society.......YAWN! Standard disposable home invasion movie bottom line.
½ March 11, 2017
Cleanse your soul. What if this were to happen for real? We need this. This kind of behavior is immoral. All thoughts that you will find racing through your head as you take the irresistible ride through the eyes of a family just trying to survive the night. From the beginning you are faced with the Sandin clan who are placed in an impossible situation, either give up "the homeless swine" who has found refuge within their homes or face inevitability. The film deals with the element of morality and ultimately forces the family's patriarch, Ethan Hawke's character James to make sacrifices. The film proves that no matter the situation, no matter how much money or isolation you can provide, no one is every completely safe, not from their friends nor complete strangers. The thrill of the Purge are fueled by hatred and our own intense desires to release our inner beast!
March 4, 2017
A great original idea! That main purger does a great job being really creepy.
February 26, 2017
Stupid Idea, Story, Characters, Acting.... everything is Awful and this movie makes me so Angry!
February 19, 2017
It's good horror movie to watch
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