Lisa Miller

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June 12, 2013
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Movie Review: ‘The Purge’

It’s 2022, a few years after “The New Founding Fathers” declared an annual purge to reshaped our society. The name implies the story’s implausible premise, one where hard-working taxpayers take advantage of a 12-hour period during which nearly all crime is legal — including murder.

One would imagine well-armed thugs making use of such a holiday to oust the wealthy from their homes, rob banks, or take over profitable businesses. Here we concentrate on the well-heeled who have armed themselves to the teeth and turned their homes into fortresses. The wealthy who feel so inclined to go “hunting” in order to “purge” society of criminals and ne’er do wells. This strategy has cut unemployment to one percent, and non-purge crime to almost zero.

Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey portray James and Mary Sandin, a nouveau riche couple living in a gated community. James Sandin made his fortune selling high-end security systems, including to all the residents within his gated community. His success enabled the Sandins to add a new wing to their McMansion.

Mary Sandin, and her female neighbors, roam their homes and community wearing heels and tasteful dresses or pencil skirts, passing out cookies and phony smiles. Yes, the ‘50s are back or perhaps “The Stepford Wives.”

During the afternoon preceding the annual ritual, peaceable types wish their friends a “safe night” then hunker down behind their fortified walls, to watch the festivities unfold on TV. Oddly, though the inhabitants of Sandin’s gated community can afford to hire security, they rely on their pretty gates and security systems for protection. They soon learn it doesn’t take much to breach these defenses.

Things start to go wrong for the Sandins when pubescent son Charlie (Max Burkholder), a shy boy possessing surprising technical skills, rescues a bloodied black man (Edwin Hodge) he sees wandering and pleading for a place to hide. After Charlie lets the man in, we learn the Sandin daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane), is harboring her boyfriend, a young man with an axe to grind.

All sorts of mayhem breaks loose, violence that reveals you can’t trust anyone. Though well-choregraphed and slick, the story engenders more questions than answers. Are pedophiles also free to pursue their proclivities? Where did all the philandering spouses and tyrannical bosses hide? And most importantly, are 7-11 and Walmart open in the event you run out of either milk or bullets?


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jun 12, 2013 05:08PM Published Jun 12, 2013 08:04PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.