tek's rating: meh and three quarters

The Purge (R)
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This came out in 2013, but I didn't see it until 2021, on the night that the fifth movie in the franchise was released. I didn't like it enough to have any interest in watching more of the franchise, but it wasn't terrible.

So, one night every year, from 7PM on March 21 to 7AM on March 22, all crime is legal. Apparently this led to drastically reduced crime for the rest of the year, but it doesn't really seem worth it to me, for any number of reasons. For one thing, it seems a hell of a lot of people who would never commit crimes, especially murder, if this law didn't exist, do commit such crimes. I feel like the overall crime rate for the entire year probably isn't any lower than it would be without the purge, and might even be greater. It's just not spread out. (It could be that the movie's claim of a lowered crime rate is meant to include crime committed during the Purge, but I don't buy that for a second.) But I don't want to think too deeply about whatever passes for political or social commentary in the plot. Though I will say I expect the life insurance industry must take a hell of a hit once a year.

Anyway, the first movie is set in 2022, nine years after the movie came out and just about one year after I watched it. There's a security system salesman named James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), who has become wealthy because of business increasing due to the Purge. He has a wife named Mary (Lena Headey), a daughter named Zoey (Adelaide Kane), and a son named Charlie (Max Burkholder, whom I know from Parenthood). Zoey has a boyfriend who her father doesn't want her dating because he's 18. (I have no idea what age she's supposed to be.) After the Purge starts in the evening, Charlie lets in a stranger who had been attacked and is looking for shelter. Then the people who attacked him show up and threaten to break into the house and kill everyone there unless they hand over the stranger. Of course they eventually do break in, and the family just tries to survive.

And that's all I feel like saying. I'm leaving out a major plot twist or two. Anyway, the movie's reasonably scary and the whole premise is... well, I don't know what the hell it is, good or bad. I feel like the movie would have worked just as well without it. All it really does is make the movie dystopian on top of the horror. It's probably more important to the franchise than to the movie itself. But whatever, at least I didn't dislike the movie, as I feared I might. Didn't really like it, either, but that's okay.

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