THE PURGE (R)

‘The Purge’ (R)

 

Movie Info

Rating:

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headley, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield.

Writer-director: James DeMonaco.

Producers: Michael Bay, Jason Blum, Andrew Form.

A Universal Pictures release. Running time: 85 minutes. Vulgar language, violence, gore. Playing at area theaters.


rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

According to the what-if? scenario of The Purge, in the near future government will shut down for 12 hours one night each year — no police, no hospitals, no 911 — and people will be free to do whatever they want, even commit murder, without legal consequence.

The movie tries to explain its preposterous premise by claiming that the national crime rate has gone down to 1 percent, because most victims of the annual bloodbath are thieves and drug addicts and homeless people — you know, the kinds of people who want to steal your stuff and hurt you (white-collar criminals are apparently off-limits). Apparently, every bad guy in the country can be taken down over the course of one night, and mysteriously, without explanation, no replacements rise up until the following year.

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) has become a wealthy man thanks to the purge, selling high-tech security systems that turn your home into an impenetrable fortress. While carnage reigns outside your front door, you can sip a fine Cabernet and spend quality time with friends, safe inside your luxurious mansion. The allegory is hard to miss, but writer-director James DeMonaco wants to have it both ways: He expects you to be horrified by the film’s central concept, but he also wants to stoke your bloodlust and root for the characters to get their hands bloody when an intruder sneaks into their house. Shoot! Kill! Chop him with that axe!

The Purge, which co-stars Game of Thrones’ Lena Headley as Hawke’s wife, is the kind of movie in which people are constantly running away into another room for no reason, forcing someone to go look for them. The film has some vague things to say about class and racial differences, but they are drowned out by the sounds of blasting shotguns and huge knives being plunged into people’s chests. The baddies carrying out their siege on the heroes’ home wear creepy masks and tend to pop up in unexpected places, which brings to mind 2008’s The Strangers, another home-invasion thriller that was far scarier, less self-important and had the courage of its convictions. The Purge isn’t just stupid; it’s also pretentious and often makes no sense. OK, so murder is legal for the next 12 hours. But do you really think your girlfriend is going to run off with you and live happily ever after if you shoot her disapproving father in the head?

 

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Guardians of the Galaxy’:</span> Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Chris Pratt form an unlikely team of space-jockey superheroes.

    Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13)

    Watching the zippy, ebullient Guardians of the Galaxy, you wonder “Why can’t all comic-book movies be this much fun?”

  •  
Dad (Ethan Hawke, right) plays around with his son (Ellar Coltrane) in a scene from “Boyhood.”

    Boyhood (R)

    Contrary to most dramas, which tend to dwell on traumatic or seismic events, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood argues that life is a compilation of small, everyday moments, an accumulation of the feelings and thoughts and emotions we start to gather from the time we are children. Shot over the span of 12 years, with the cast getting together for a few days annually to shoot some scenes, the movie charts the growth of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the ages of 5 to 18. Mason has an older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter) and he has two loving parents, Mom (Patricia Arquette) and Dad (Ethan Hawke), who are divorced and live apart. Their relationship can be contentious at times, but they both care deeply for their kids.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Life Itself’:</span> Gene Siskel, left, and Roger Ebert get into one of their countless arguments during the taping of their TV show.

    Life Itself (R)

    There are scholars who blame Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel for dumbing down film criticism with their thumbs-up, thumbs-down approach, the same way they blame Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for ruining movies with the success of Jaws and Star Wars. But Siskel and Ebert accomplished just the opposite: They popularized criticism and introduced it to the masses via their PBS show in which they spent a lot of time debating (and fighting) over movies before delivering their final, yes-or-no verdict. The first version of their show, which was titled Sneak Previews and aired on PBS in the late 1970s, led me to read Pauline Kael and Film Comment and American Film and the Miami Herald’s late, great Bill Cosford as a kid. Suddenly, my nascent love of movies blew up: Movies weren’t just something you watched for entertainment. Sometimes, there was a lot to find beneath their surface.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category