I was expecting the average thriller but was pleasantly surprised that the movie had a more philosophical / political tone to it. The sequel will be out this year and also looks interesting. The concept takes class warfare to the extreme and was a little over the top but I thought it was effective overall.
I wasn’t really expecting much from this film, and that’s pretty well what I got. It’s a fairly standard thriller with dark scenes, spooky music, and startling jolts. At least on that level I think The Purge did a decent job of building suspense; there are certainly worse suspense-dramas. Of course all of the ‘twists’ are obvious – that’s how Hollywood thrillers work – but the atmosphere was good. My main complaint is with all that the film left out. The idea of a 12 hour legal free-for-all is in itself very interesting and exploring that idea within a suspense thriller could definitely work. Unfortunately, Jesse managed to get more out of that side than I did.
There is so much that could be explored from a philosophical point of view: Do people really need a ‘release’ from aggression? Are the consequences of such a release worse that the stress of not allowing it? Are there groups that will be unfairly exploited? How hard is it for a person to be convinced that the suffering they are inflicting is justifiable? And even beyond the philosophical, there are practical questions that could be looked at: Should only murder be allowed? What happens if someone is seriously hurt, but manages to survive? What about other crimes like vandalism or theft? Should the entire effort be started and finished during the 12 hour window or can I set a trap ahead of time that will be triggered during the specified time? Can I set a trap during the 12 hours that will be triggered sometime after?
But The Purge didn’t really touch on these to any great degree. There are clear references to the fact that certain people believe the whole exercise is nothing more than an excuse to kill the homeless. But these are rare, and there’s hardly any real discussion of the implications. Most of the movie is about the family trying to stay alive given the uncertainty of the villains, and whether that uncertainty comes from the free-for-all concept or not, its effect is just like any other suspense thriller.
I think this film would have worked better if the writers had completely left out any overt references the philosophical side. We would have had exactly the same suspense, but the audience would be able to read into it as much as it liked. Or The Purge could have gone in the complete opposite direction and actually explored the concepts that it was hinting at. Essentially, I like the concept and want it to be covered in a totally different movie.