Gun Nuts Movie Reviews: The Purge, or “How to fail at home security”

Wow what a terrible movie that was. I have to confess, I was somewhat interested in the fictional universe presented by the backstory of The Purge, set in a future America where one night a year, all crime is legal. This usually centers around murdering folk, and it’s generally suggested that the people usually targeted for murder are lower class/poor folk. Get rid of those undesirables, and whatnot. Anyway the movie is total garbage, and if you want to see everything wrong with The Purge, check out CinemaSins.


Back to the movie itself, it’s awful to watch. The only good thing about the movie is Lena Headey, and the scene where Ethan Hawke shoots his teenage daughter’s boyfriend, because who hasn’t wanted to do that, right? (I do not have teenage daughters) But the movie itself is sort of useful to gun nuts, because it presents the total breakdown in a home defense strategy and several really good examples of “how to get everyone killed in a home invasion.” So instead of reviewing the movie, we’re going to take a look at the tactical mistakes made by the main characters in the film.

1. They let the family scatter after the lockdown
In the film, Hawke’s family has this banging home-security system with big steel doors and shutters that makes their house relatively safe. However, after they go into lockdown, they’re lulled into a false sense of security by the big steel doors, and the entire family of four disperses over the large house, which allows the youngest child to temporarily lower their defenses, leading to the movie’s central conflict.

The fix for this is simple, and common sense: if you’re under imminent threat, you get everyone in a central, easily defended location. I would consider the house to be under imminent threat for the entire 12 hours of the Purge, so before the event started, everyone would be ushered into the safe-room/bunker, which would be nicely equipped with cots, video games, food, weapons, and security monitors, and we’d all stay there. For 12 hours. Spending 12 hours with your family is a small price to pay for not getting murdered.

2. Don’t divide your forces
But of course they don’t do that, and everything goes TU, so they have to fight to defend themselves, at which point Ethan Hawke gives his trembling, scared wife a gun and says “go find our daughter” while he goes off to kill badguys in their house.

He gets killed and Lena Headey gets captured. THIS IS MY SHOCKED FACE. If you have to go retrieve a child in that situation, either go alone and leave someone to defend the safe-room, or take as much force with you. Don’t split up and send two people out into the house by themselves to confront an unknown number of intruders. Come one.

3. Don’t trust mechanical systems
The biggest point of the film is that their security system is defeated; and the badguys gain easy entry after that. I like security systems, they’re very handy for warning that there’s an intruder in the house and alerting the cops that you need help if 911 isn’t available. But they’re not going to save your life. No ADT system in the world ever shot a determined invader in the face, which is why the most important part of a real home security system is having a smart plan.

That’s where the main characters in the film really failed, and the most important lesson of all. They believed “this can’t happen to us” so when the moment came where it did happen, there was a lot of lost strategic time due to panic. There was no plan, because they figured they were safe behind their steel doors. Locks are great, secure buildings are great, but don’t let them lull you into a false sense of security. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Not just home invasions, but fires, natural disasters, and all kinds of things like that.

Have a plan. Stick to your plan.

And if you’re in a horror movie, DON’T SPLIT UP.


    1. Good fiction allows the reader to establish a state of suspended disbelief. In practice, this is why good fiction is enjoyable, and bad fiction isn’t.

      A big reason why bad fiction is unenjoyable (or at least less enjoyable) is because something about it destroys the reader’s ability to suspend disbelief. To see this in practice, try watching something like ER with someone who is employed in the field of emergency medical care: They’ll notice all kinds of small details where the show gets it so wrong that they can’t suspend disbelief, at which point they’ll start critiquing everything that the dramatization got wrong.

      In the case of this movie, even the base premise strains credulity: It may reduce the incidence of punishable premeditated murder to near zero, but it is unlikely to prevent crimes of passion, and thus the idea that yearly “purges” would reduce violent crime to near-zero is seemingly flawed on it’s face. That’s before you get into the details, like the fundamentally flawed security system/plan, and his shitty guns (a Mossberg “chainsaw” and a Taurus revolver? Really? With all the money they spent on the house, car, and security system, I’d expect a real shotgun and some kind of AR15, at a minimum.).

      I don’t know about you all, but if I lived in a world where such purges were a thing, my home defense plan would involve multiple machineguns, even if it meant having to manufacture and destroy them for each purge (Let’s face it: If LE isn’t safe either, there’s going to be a grace period of at least an hour at either end while LE commutes, and even then they’ll have plenty of more important things to worry about for awhile.). How long do you think it would take that new desktop mill Defense Distributed is marketing to turn an 80% lower into an M16 lower? How long do you think it would take to disassemble (or at least everything but the trigger guard and bolt catch) that same lower and then destroy it with a sledge hammer? It isn’t exactly rocket science; Regardless, I still expect the guy with a 7-figure home to have invested more than $800 in guns, and I also expect him to have put more thought into the practical defense of that home.

    2. In essence though, the TLDR of my previous post can basically be summed up by the following:

      Have you ever watched a badly researched TV drama about emergency medicine with someone who works in the field of emergency medicine (either hospital or pre-hospital)? Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

  1. I haven’t seen the movie. Is there some reason (given) why rich people from gated communities don’t spend the week of The Purge in Toronto or London?

  2. Have not seen this movie, but in general Hollywood is a terrible detriment to all things gun and self defense related. Not at all suprised that this movie is a complete non-example of what to do. One issue that Hollywood promotes is the notion that people get blown out of their socks when shot. I have had the conversation so many times with people when discussing defensive shootings, police or civillian related: “why did he have to shoot him 6 times!” Or, “the guy only had a knife, why did the cop shoot him 9 times!” Hollywood promotes this pathetic misunderstanding of stopping power and shooting to nutralize, as well as all the tactics that go along with defensive shooting. A real disservice to anybody who ends up in front of a jury after a legitimate defensive shooting.

  3. I made it about 30 minutes into the first one. The second is much more watchable, albeit still rife with social commentary. They still flubbed some gun details and did some things just for rule-of-cool, but the characters are far less moronic and not completely ignorant about firearms and tactics.

  4. People, people, people, the point of the movie is twofold:

    1. To buy a lot of cocaine and hotties for the producers.

    2. To show that guns are useless for self defense.

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