Monday Morning Movie Review, Guest Contributor Edition: The Purge (2013)

It’s always interesting to live during the times depicted in films, and to see how accurate the filmmakers’ predictions were.  There were no Mattel Hoverboards or self-lacing Nikes in 2015, per Back to the Future Part II (1989), but girls were wearing those puffy vests.  New York City isn’t a massive prison colony—at least, not as depicted in Escape from New York (1981).

And in 2022, crime runs rampant all the time, not just one night a year.  Even so, it’s still technically illegal to murder, steal, and pillage (unless you live in California), so 2013’s The Purge isn’t 100% accurate in that regard.

The Purge is one of those films that does what horror/science-fiction do best:  asks unsettling questions about human nature.  In an age where we like to believe violence is rare and brutishThe Purge argues otherwise:  that we need an outlet for our pent-up rage and frustrations, and it should be all let loose on one bloody night.

Would it work?  It’s too horrendous to contemplate—even if one night of mayhem would cure the ills of crime the other 364 days of the year, the cost would not be worth the benefit.  It would also be grossly immoral.

But it does offer an intriguing look into how society functions, and the things we do to protect ourselves.  The film also explores the nature of envy and greed.

Regular contributor Pontiac Dream 39—now Always a Kid for Today, or just “Mike”—offers up another excellent film review.  I’ve largely left it unedited, other than mild style changes, so enjoy his British spellings of words—and his trenchant insights into a disturbing film with a fascinating premise.

Have you ever wondered what life would be like with minimal to zero crime? Not having to wake up on a day and read, watch or listen to news of murder, battery or rape over your morning Cornflakes? Being able to walk through any neighbourhood without the worry of being robbed or sodomised? Well, that sort of world has been idolised in fiction in the past, usually an illusion of liberal utopia with dark dystopian underlying elements. The society I’m talking about isn’t the Cocteau created dystopia of Demolition Man with its joy joy feelings or the restrictive dystopia of Nineteen Eighty Four and Orwell’s rigidly controlled Oceana. No, I’m referring to 2022 America, where one night of the year has been designated to The Purge (2013), a government sanctioned free for all on crime.

‘America. 2022.

Unemployment is at 1%.

Crime is at an all-time low.

Violence barely exists.

With one exception…’

‘Blessed be the New Founding Fathers for letting us Purge and cleanse our souls, Blessed be America, a nation reborn.’

This dark thriller follows the Sandin family as they try to sit out the events of Purge night. What starts as an uneventful evening rapidly escalates into something else as a homeless man, on the run from wealthy purgers, is allowed into the Sandin home by their youngest son, Charlie. The purgers descend on the Sandin home and issue them with an ultimatum: release the homeless man or suffer the consequences.

The pace and tone for this film is near perfect and there are enough twists and turns to keep you interested. The characters are intensely believable and the family dynamic works well, relaxed yet aloof at the start and more panicked as they grow closer to the denouement. Just what you’d expect when events turn from normal to frantic. The teenage daughter, Zoe, is more interested in making out with her boyfriend than discussing her day with her family; the youngest, Charlie, an OCD ridden technophile, still questioning his parents on things he tries to understand, like the point of Purge night. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey, as James and Mary Sandin, do a great job as the father chuffed at achieving top sales for the year, looking for a boat to buy while the Purge starts, and the mother trying to keep her mind and body occupied before they’re called upon to keep their kids safe when the purgers attack their house. In the upper class neighbourhood the film is set in, even the neighbours play their part, all fake smiles and inane chit chat until their intentions become clear at the end.

Rhys Wakefield, the Ivy league, well spoken leader of the purgers, is as charismatic as he is menacing and Edwin Hodge, who pops up for two of the sequels, provides adequate prey for not only the purgers but the Sandins too, as they find themselves at odds with the ethics of the night and trying to protect themselves against it.

There are some lovely touches to this film like the opening credits, which are as amazing as they are bleak and disturbing. One of the most beautiful pieces of music ever recorded (Debussy’s Clair De Lune) played to CCTV footage of Purge participants.

To me, it reflects the twisted nature of what the Founding Fathers believe Purge night to be – pure and cleansing.

I love movies that make you question the world around you, even each other, and this film does it in spades and more. It’s a movie student’s wet dream. The same could be said for those who debate or study philosophy. Tina and I have had some great long discussions on the back of this film.

Could this sort of thing ever be sanctioned in real life? What sort of government could enact it? What does it say about us, as a people, that we could allow something like this to pass? Would we ever take part on such a night? Would we be non-participants but Purge voyeurs, as some of the characters in this film are? How would trust be affected post-Purge? These are just some of the questions that linger when the final credits roll.


34 thoughts on “Monday Morning Movie Review, Guest Contributor Edition: The Purge (2013)

  1. Thanks Port. 🙂

    Dystopia is great to watch, not something you want to suffer in reality. It should have stayed on celluloid.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your submission, dude! It’s a great review of a thought-provoking film.

      While frantically finishing up report cards last night, I watched the 1995 _Judge Dredd_ with Sly Stalone, and began watching 1987’s _Robocop_. Talk about a crime dystopian overload!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’ve heard the Dredd remake, starring Karl Urban, is pretty good. Haven’t watched it yet. The Robocop remake is pretty poor. The emotion doesn’t resonate for me. I always liked that sequence in the original where Murphy returns to his former home and starts to have flashbacks of his old life. None of that in the remake.

        Some of the old dystopian films really resonate today. 1984, certainly, but I thought V For Vendetta was pretty close – a virus wrapped in a manufactured crisis. A compliant population; dissidents dragged off the board. The difference between that film and reality is they had someone to fight for them (even though his vendetta was entirely personal). The end was great, though I can’t see, at the moment, if that will come to pass in real life.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ah, yes—the 2012 _Dredd_:

        I watched it a few years ago and enjoyed it. I would love to read some of the Judge Dredd comics, as I find the concept of the series fascinating. Who polices the police and all that.

        I need to go back and watch _V for Vendetta_. I think I saw it in theaters in 2005. I was a plump twenty at the time, so I imagine another seventeen years of accumulated barnacles might deepen my appreciation for the film. My appreciation for Natalie Portman, of course, is deep enough already. ; D

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I should add that politicians are omitted from the purge (typical) in the opening 2 films. In a moment of madness, the Founding Fathers bring politicians into it in the 3rd film, mainly so they can eliminate a political candidate who wants to stop the event.

    If something like this ever came about – unlikely – you can bet your backside that politicians would rule themselves out.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, that was a good bit of socio-political satire there. Politicians are always exempting themselves from the consequences of their own bad laws. Makes sense they’d exempt themselves from The Purge. I’d be running for Congress for sure!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I loved your introduction to my review, by the way. ‘Crime is still illegal, except in California!’ 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Tina loved those self laced trainers in Back to the Future 2, by the way. She’d never wear them but she liked them. I liked the hover train in the 3rd movie. Certainly cuts out waiting times! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would love a pair of those shoes. Nike was actually selling replicas for outrageous amounts back in 2015, though without the self-lacing technology. I mean, c’mon, Nike—you can figure it out!

      Glad you liked the introduction, mate.

      Liked by 2 people

      • On yer bike, Nike! The replicas should have wrapped around like those in the movies! And what about the updated microwaves where you put in your dinner, pressed a button and out it popped fully cooked? Pizza in, pizza out and all done! Only in America but I liked it! 🙂 🙂

        You’ve started a different but fun discussion here, Port. Things in dystopian/sci fi films you’d love to see in real life. Personally, I’d like the speed to dodge bullets and fly like Neo in The Matrix. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • To have Neo’s powers you’d have to be living in a simulation. Gulp! Might not be worth the trade-off.

        Haha, I loved the instant pizza. Given the sheer amount of frozen pizza I consume, that one hits close to home. 😂🍕

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great joy that we present to you, the NEW Siskel and Ebbert – 39 PD and Portly P. Thrill to their insights, bask in the glow of their prodigious background knowledge, laugh or cry as they lead us to new heights in cinematic critique. You’ll only find it here, folks, so tell your friends and family and meet us here next week – same time, same blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Cheers Audre. I put the link on TCW and one poster has already said they’ll watch the film. Personally, I’d prefer them to come here and join us in discussion.

      There are a few gamers there too, like Bob Skyrunkal, so when I send Tyler my Resident Evil reviews and Tina eventually starts on her Abe review, I can find out if some of those gamers want to come and have a look.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ebert got knocked on something I watched recently because of his dislike for horror movies. If he reviewed a horror, you know he’d rate it badly out of bias. You think there’d be more critics to share the burden but maybe it was Ebert’s way to make them go extinct. Thankfully, it didn’t work like he wanted it to.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Agreed. Maybe they’ll make a maudlin sequel to _Bicentennial Man_, in which Andy _was_ able to procreate, and thanks to his technology his aging wife manages to give birth to a miracle child, Isaac. Since he’s half-robot and half-human, it’d basically be a movie about a high-functioning autist. : D Too spicy?

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’m game.

        However, I think we should each have 3 vetoes. Take your time and then post them up.

        Mine are easy.

        Bicentennial Man.
        Love Actually.

        I’ve wasted enough time watching those pieces of, ahem, excrement. I’d rather not waste any more.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Titanic was trash. If you want to see a close resemblance to what that must have been, watch 1958’s A Night to Remember. Absolutely heart-wrenching. And way more factual.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Either way, the ship went down. 🙄

      A Night to Remember didn’t have all that gushy sh…stuff before it though and no whiny DiCaprio and Winslet. Do you remember that king of the world crap at the back of the ship? I’d have been glad if the ship had hit the iceberg then, throwing both of them over and saving the audience their stupid melodrama.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Nope – no gushy stuff. They should have never made that stupid movie – all it had was a famous name, Titanic (NOT DiCaprio!) and the same physical event; the rest was a 13 yr old girl’s idea of romance and ‘love’.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I was in middle school when _Titanic_ hit the theaters, and I can attest that it is, indeed, “a 13 yr old girl’s idea of romance.” I remember all of the girls gushing about it, and how they’d seen it multiple times, etc., etc.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ll be interested to see what your veto movies are. There’s a long line of horrible movies and you only have 3 to choose. I wonder whether you’ll go for Zombeaver! 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. No, but that’s always an idea. 🙂 🙂

    Tina and I like cheesy Christmas movies so that’s how Love Actually happened.

    There’s a kid in it who is learning to play drums so he can impress a girl he likes. That kid, in my own version of the film, is killed off repeatedly. He’s thrown into the Thames, onto the runway, has his drumsticks embedded in his head. As you can tell, I’m not a fan of saccharine kids in films.

    Liked by 1 person

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