The movie is set somewhere in the United States in the year 2023. For six years, the American government has instituted a national holiday called The Purge. It consists of one night a year where all crimes are permitted, including murder. Its objective is, you guessed it, to purge.
The government gives you the right to get all the anger, aggressiveness and malice out of your system, kill anybody you’d like, do whatever you want, so that the rest of the year can go by in relative peacefulness and lowered crime rates. So the movie starts and the first thing I think about is how much the concept of a free-for-all killing spree reminds me of The Hunger Games, except that in this case, all american citizens get to participate if they so wish.
The others who don’t want to participate can lock themselves in their homes and pray that nobody comes bashing down their doors (spoilers: doors get bashed). The movie is entertaining enough even if the characters aren’t. The only two characters who are remotely likable are Cali (the teenaged girl) and Carmelo, the activist who is inciting a revolution against this national holiday. Everybody else is just boring or one-dimensional.
There is no mystery to solve here. This is basically a movie about a group of people trying to survive their bad luck, about society giving in to their darkest desires, and also about one man’s quest for revenge. There isn’t any real suspense or problem to solve, so that the climax at the end of the movie is nothing short of monotonous and entirely predictable.
The thing is that they could have done so much more with this concept than just film a whole bunch of action scenes with people killing each other. There was no real story arc or narrative structure either, it was all sort of a jumbled mess. The most interesting line in the movie is when somebody said that the government gave them their right to kill, which brings into question the fact if morality can be encapsulated in a legalistic frame. But that’s pretty much it.
My recommendation? Skip it.