JESUS CHRIST, how did this happen? Such was my reaction at several points during this absolute turd of a film. I had gone in there with practically zero knowledge of the plot, assuming it was something to do with vampires or zombies as most things are these days. If only!
“The Purge” tells the story (oddly classified by Wikipedia as science-fiction) of the USA in 2022, when some past crisis led the government to designate 12 hours a year in which any crime is legal. We’re repeatedly told that it was necessary in order to save the country, and it helps people vent. As a result, unemployment and crime are way down and the economy is in good form. Apparently people just kill the homeless, the sick and other drains on society (the film producers?) and the country as a whole benefits.
So within 1 minute a totally ludicrous concept is presented. We meet our family: father Ethan Hawke, mother Lena Headey (aka her off Game of Thrones) and two faceless children I can only assume were competition winners. None of them particularly likeable, except Lena in the vague way I usually like her.
They safely lock their home down, ready to sit through the 12 hours of purging. But no, there are moral dilemmas, sieges, gang, and a set of neighbours displaying hatred so thinly-veiled it might as well be invisible clingfilm. Yes, twists, turns, endless violence, jumpscares, a relentless onslaught of tired cliches from pretty much anywhere (including one monologue so bum-clenchingly stupid it could have been Dawson’s Creek fanfic).
I didn’t care about any of the characters, I only recognised about half of them most of the time. The plot was predictable but somehow I wasn’t prepared at what a perfect storm of point-making bollocks it was. Shame on whatever well-meaning Make-A-Wish foundation greenlit this one. Actually Michael Bay was a producer, that should’ve been a warning.
However, if you wish to spend 85 minutes a year watching a film so you don’t need or want to for the rest of the year, then this is the one for you. In short, I didn’t care for it.