The thriller “The Purge” plays like a weak “Twilight Zone” episode whose message gets horribly muddled by its over-the-top violence.
In an otherwise crime-free America of 2022, the ruling government has instituted an annual 12-hour period in which all crime, including murder, is legal. For some, this means taking revenge on the boss or hunting the homeless, but for the Sandin family, it means hunkering in their big house, paid for by patriarch James (Ethan Hawke) selling security systems to his well-to-do neighbors. When James’ son Charlie (Max Burkholder) lets in a homeless black man (Edwin Hodge) seeking help, a group of young punks threaten to bust in and kill the Sandins unless they give up their quarry.
This briefly poses a dilemma for James and his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), but writer-director James DeMonaco can’t sustain the morality tale before letting the movie devolve into a button-pushing bloodbath.
Opens today at theaters everywhere; rated R for strong disturbing violence and for language; 85 minutes.