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FILM FANS: 'The Purge' is interesting, but hard to believe

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "The Purge." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

In "The Purge," we're asked to suspend disbelief and be transported to a time in which one night of the year all crimes -- including murder -- are legal. This apparently provides an outlet for our pent-up anger and anyone who so desires is allowed to let the inner monster rear its ugly head.

Ethan Hawke plays Hank, an extremely successful security system salesman who chooses not to participate in the annual "purge events." Instead, he and his family simply lock the house down and prepare for 12 hours of "peace." Things take a turn when his son decides to harbor a homeless man who's being hunted and the family is forced to turn him over or become victims themselves.

The biggest problem is the time frame. It's set in 2022, only nine years from now. It's a fast-paced film that poses many moral questions. Unfortunately the message is heavy-handed (a poor man's life isn't as valuable as a rich man's) and at times the film feels contrived. Overall, while it's a unique concept, the plot was a little thin. It's a dollar theater movie or Redbox rental.

-- Ron Adams, Statham

2 out of 4 stars

This movie is an eclectic combination of stories from various other films. It is "The Hunger Games" on steroids with the violence of "Straw Dogs," the menacing home invaders from "The Strangers" and the irrational insanity from "A Clockwork Orange." The premise is actually more unique than the story itself as it tells the story of a future society (year 2022) where the crime rate is at an all-time low and unemployment is less than 1 percent. All is well, and everyone is happy and content, presumably because of an annual ritual called "the purge."

Contrived by the government, the purge is a 12-hour period when nothing, including murder, is illegal and all emergency services are suspended. The citizens are encouraged to vent all of their pent-up frustrations on anyone and anything they choose, in order to satisfy their innate tendency for violence, and eliminate any unwanted or evil people no matter who they are, therefore leaving them and the entire country cleansed for another year.

The story centers around a peace-loving family thrown into the midst of the annual event against their will, and ultimately forced to face the possibility of themselves becoming as vicious as the monsters they are trying so desperately to avoid, as they try to protect themselves and survive the night.

There's lots of blood and gore -- if that's your thing -- and some fairly good acting with a predictable twist at the end that all but misses the mark, leading to a fairly diluted moral. Almost worth the time, but wait for the video and save your money.

-- Steve Kalberg, Lawrenceville

1 out of 4 stars

How could anyone buy into the premise of this movie? A 12-hour period of time from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., one night a year where a post-Obama new conservative American government allows "We The People" to cleanse ourselves of all our evil instincts including -- but not limited to -- killing, beating, robbing, raping and pretty much anything we want all for the sake of a lower crime rate and 1 percent unemployment.

But I just have a few questions that if answered, might make me suspend my disbelief just enough to actually allow me to concentrate more on the other things I didn't like about this movie.

1.) What makes the writer/director James DeMonaco think that the American people would actually engage in such an atrocity in the first place? Not only this, but if our country can't even settle on a health care law we can all agree on, then what makes him think we'd vote into law a holiday where we get to kill our neighbors?

2.) What's stopping the low-income left-leaning voters from coming into the rich, conservative neighborhoods and burning every security-ridden house to the ground, and then killing and taking anything they want?

The movie proposed that the poor people would stay in their less fortunate neighborhoods and kill each other and not venture into the middle class areas to take their stuff. I guess DeMonaco was hoping the audience wouldn't question his premise at all. He probably thought that with all the violence and cliche "jump-scare" tactics nobody would look into it that hard. His social commentary was so blatantly obvious and lame that it's hard to take "The Purge" seriously on any level.

Bottom line, this movie would have been much more effective if DeMonaco integrated his ideas into the characters and story instead of just spoon-feeding it to the audience. He treats us like we're stupid and it's insulting.

-- Michael Gorgoglione, Dacula