Reviewed by: Brian C. Johnson
Why are many people violent?
sin and the Bible
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
murder in the Bible
|Featuring:||Lena Headey … Mary Sandin
Ethan Hawke … James Sandin
Tony Oller … Henry
Adelaide Kane … Zoey
“One night a year, all crime is legal. Survive the night.”
Sequel: “The Purge: Anarchy” (2014)
What would you do if there were no rules, no laws, and no repercussions for the next twelve hours?
This is the premise of “The Purge,” written and directed by James DeMonaco (“The Negotiator”). Set in the not too distant future, the government has instituted an annual program to control the most antisocial among us. Called The Purge, the government grants permission and amnesty for individuals to rage and pillage—even maim and kill—to let our primal urges run amuck for exactly twelve hours. In true Darwinian fashion, only the strong will survive.
Ethan Hawke returns to a darker character, much like his 2012 movie, “Sinister,” and plays James Sandin, a builder of security systems designed to protect families from the annual killing spree. Sandin and his family live on a veritable compound, and are whiling away the evening, seemingly safe from the melee that is occurring outside. When his son, Charlie, notices a man who has been wounded during the fighting and brings him into the house, the Sandin sanctuary becomes the target of attention of a horde that is bent on mayhem and harm.
Let’s just cut to the chase. The whole premise of this film should make the Christian viewer squirm (anyone with a heart, really). There should be no question in anyone’s mind that this film is ultra-violent—it is a government sanctioned killing spree, after all. Blood and gore are everywhere! There are some attempts to shield the viewer, but moments later brains and entrails are abounding. Bad language and sensuality are present—par for the course for films like these.
On a philosophical note, though, the film raises important questions that we as Christians should be thinking about and processing. The Purge rests upon the 19th century “nature vs. nurture” debate. The 2022 governmental leaders suggest that since we are all animals anyway, shouldn’t we just succumb to our basest instincts? This is the essence of the necessity of living, not by man’s ideas or morality, but by the authority and Word of God. Jeremiah 17:9 declares the wickedness of man’s hearts, and it is essential to have a changed heart and mind. (Perhaps our leaders in 2013 need to learn this lesson now!)
There are some good messages here. Charlie seems to be operating from the biblical story of the Good Samaritan; he saw the man had been harmed and wanted to help. Mary Sandin (Lena Headey—“The Brothers Grimm,” “300”) has a choice to remember her humanity as she is faced with killing her own would-be killers—what would YOU do? These are good messages, and certainly there is some theological fodder here, but, honestly, you need not watch this movie to have these types of conversations. Stay home and read your Bible. Join a small group study. Go to church. Your time will be much better spent.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…As home-invasion stories go, this one’s in the cellar… Once the carnage begins, “The Purge” abandons any notions of humanity or morality. … “The Purge” is nothing more than a vigilante revenge fantasy—one group of unpleasant people shooting at another group of unpleasant people. …
—Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press
…The movie doesn’t directly point fingers at political conservatives, but Mr. DeMonaco deploys the satire about God ‘n’ Guns with such cumulative heavy handedness, that the target, so to speak, becomes obvious. (The emblem of the New Founding Fathers looks a lot like one for the National Rifle Association, complete with a gun-toting eagle.) The message just gets louder and louder, cruder and cruder…
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
…Thudding shocks and predictability dull the edge of this futuristic horror movie. …
—Leslie Felperin, Variety
…“Purge” this social experiment from your to-do list… [2 out of 4]
—Claudia Puig, USA Today
…instead of being a creepy B-movie about the necessity of suppressing one’s animalistic urges, “The Purge” is just an uninspired film. … [1½ out of 4]
—Simon Abrams, Chicago Sun-Times
…Gimmicky chiller lacks the robustness and distinction needed to support its social-commentary ambitions. … a sequence of bloody torture, perhaps inspired by the maltreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghrai…
—Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter
…The world we encounter in “The Purge” has attempted to set aside any morality rooted in God’s presence. We need not abide by any higher law, the new founding fathers say. The law is ours to make. We are animals. Therefore we must allow ourselves to act like animals. …
—Paul Asay, Plugged In
…the “New Founding Fathers” (read: Tea Party) have ushered in a “rebirth” of American prosperity by instituting an annual “purge” when all laws, including the crime of murder, are suspended for 12 hours of mayhem. … With most of the scares coming from poorly executed shock cuts, this makes the film seem far longer than its abbreviated running time. … [2 out of 4]
—Lou Lumenick, New York Post