James DeMonaco's "The Purge" has become something like the movie of the moment, after having been championed by some of the rioters in Baltimore as their inspiration and quasi-blueprint.
The premise sort of resembles the real-life riots that have been occurring in the U.S. after almost every grievance when it seems there's a freebie night where people are allowed to loot and pillage - and are given "room to destroy" -- with virtual impunity.
In the film, released in 2013, almost all crimes are legalized for one half-day every year. The theory is that this gets the criminal impulses out of their system so that everyone is full of positive energy for the rest of the year. So it's both a dystopian AND utopian vision of the 2020s.
But they didn't really mine the gold of the premise and could have easily added another 20 minutes to the film, showing a wider angle of how Purge night plays out throughout America. They could have had real fun with the concept.
Instead it focuses narrowly on one household and comes off more like "The Panic Room" than "A Clockwork Orange," to which it clearly aspires. Much of it resembles a Liam Neeson movie in the "Taken" mold, with Ethan Hawke playing the lead.
Still, suspenseful and worth seeing - and more timely than ever.
There is also a sequel, "The Purge: Anarchy," released last year and featuring an almost completely different cast. And there's reportedly a feature film prequel in the works.
"The Purge" is widely available for streaming across multiple online platforms.
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