An abrupt or violent removal of a group of people from an organization or place. That is the definition and the idea behind Universal’s new thriller The Purge. The Purge takes place in the not to distant future where crime, the economy and poverty has wreaked America. A group of self-proclaimed new founding fathers come up with a way to fix the mess. An annual 12 hour purge once a year where crime is legal, including murder. Citizens are able to cleanse society for revenge purposes or just a good old fashion sociopathic release. The method is extreme, but the purge has caused an economic boom and kept citizens in line.

The Purge seems like a fresh new idea in a summer full of sequels; a family riding out the chaos in their safe and locked down home. Unfortunately, dumb characters and plot development purge the novelty right out of the film. The Sandin family lead by Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey are totally prepared for the purge, but apparently turn into morons right when the sirens go off to announce the beginning of all emergency services being suspended. The Sandin kids may be some of the dumbest and worst kids on film this year (edging out Jaden Smith in After Earth) with some of the idiotic and unbelievable acts they carry out in The Purge. You need strong and intelligent characters to make a film like this work and The Purge fails miserably.

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The weak characters could have gone unnoticed in The Purge with a strong plot, but that is missing as well. The family is stuck in the house and people want to get in to kill them. That’s the plot of The Purge. None of the other aspects of The Purge are discussed like motivation, the new founding fathers which we never see or the religious aspects behind the purge. Halfway through The Purge, I realized the people hiding in their homes aren’t the most interesting story that could have been explored. As sick as it sounds, I think the more engaging aspect would have been the people in the purge parties ridding society of the individuals they deemed socially and economically unfit to be a part of this new America.

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In the end The Purge became one of the biggest let-downs for me this year. It was a great concept with a terrible follow through in direction. I’m a fan of Ethan Hawke, but his character along with plot are horribly mismanaged and fall into typical thriller clichés. When you’re resorting to loud noises and doors banging for your suspenseful moments, you have failed in my eyes. Also, would it have hurt the wealthy Sandins to mix in an electric fence or give those annoying kids some Benadryl on this crazy night? Overall, I give The Purge 1 out of 4 Potatoes.

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