Jeffrey's Review of The Purge
With a plot line that would seemingly make it an ideal candidate for a cult hit, The Purge never quite finds the right balance between its message and its thrills, feeling oddly disjointed and badly executed.
The plot line, in which all crime is legal and enforcement suspended for a day, is an interesting one. The film refuses to pursue this premise in an intelligent way, however. As opposed to letting its commentary shine through the characters and flow through the material, the film makes it's themes (class, race, socioeconomic status) abundantly clear, to the point of being annoying. Characters give stilted monologues, clearly laying out what the film has to say, showing a complete lack of trust in its audience.
The script itself is full of cliched plot devices and shallow characterizations. The actors are all fine, but there characters never feel real. Their actions don't' seem to correspond with each other, making all of the action and dramatic elements feel forced. This is especially noted in Max Burkholder's part, who feels like a parody of what a child actor would be in a horror movie. This is not to say the performances are bad, they are just adrift in a film that is never really in sync with itself.
The action is all very routine and not particularly interesting, and never inventive. For such a unique plot, the film never tries to be daring. Instead, it treats the audience like they are dumb, spelling out what it has to say at every turn, and filling the screen with cliched plot developments, and characters that never seem to fit together.
An oddly composed, and certainly unpolished, disappoint.