Imagine a world where crime is nearly nonexistent, neighbors are friendly, your family is safe. A beautiful, relaxing utopia, where you feel protected; at ease; worry free; miles away from the world you used to know. But all sanctuaries come with a price. In order to live in this Garden of Eden, you must be willing to forego the annual purge. Once a year, for twelve hours, all crime is legal, and everyone is allowed; encouraged even, to take out their frustrations on those deemed worthy. If you have a problem with your boss, hunt him down and kill him. Is your school teacher is just plain unfair? No matter, just wait for your revenge until the purge commences.
Some say this yearly ritual is barbaric, and merely a savage way to rid the earth of the poor, and weaker species. Like a quicker, darker form of Darwin’s survival of the fittest, those that are not as financially equipped are picked off, one by one. Would you support the purge? What kind of immoral events would you be willing to support if it meant the unfaltering safety of your loved ones? How far would you go?
The Purge asks this brilliant question, but fails to answer it thoroughly. The idea of a sacrificial event upheld by the law because it means safer streets for the majority of the year is an innovative, genius proposition. It questions the morality of the average citizen, faced with the responsibility of the welfare of strangers, versus those they hold dearest. It also questions the power of the government, and dares to show how far it can go. Unfortunately, the ending was a little short-sighted.
Even the man they let into their home could have been expanded upon. The stranger was clearly wearing dog tags, which could have offered a valuable insight into the way America treats its veterans. An easy, waiting opportunity wasn’t realized, and the film as a whole suffered as a result.
Certain characters would run off and hide for large periods of time, so it became a bit obvious when they would jump in the scene again and save the day. Because the story was absent of their presence for so long, it was apparent that he or she would arrive when destructive moments called for their aid. Whenever the family was being attacked, it seemed that whoever had been hiding the longest would appear out of nowhere, and save the day. Not only was it predictable, but it tarnished the realistic tone that gave the beginning of the film such an edge.
Despite the fact that the ending was anti-climactic, the film was still fairly enjoyable. There were some exciting, fast-paced fight scenes, full of struggle and tension that felt real and frightening to watch. The villains were terrific, too, almost like the James DeMonaco expanded upon the idea of The Strangers, and added a twist that made them even more frightening. However, there was much more build up than battle, and the terror ceased quicker than anticipated.
The purge promised a full night of battle, but only delivered a few minutes of vengeance. With a such a terrifying lead miscreant, he should have had more time to show what he could do. Also, with a potential hero like a war veteran, tortured by civilians, a chance to create exceptional commentary about the treatment of military men, versus the image of America as glorifying war, was missed. In the end, The Purge didn’t deliver the full message that it set out to do.