Ethan Hawke stars in “The Purge.”

The Ethan Hawke vehicle “The Purge,” made for $3 million, has been out since June 9th. I thought it looked interesting, but I think the main reason it struck me as so interesting when I took it in this afternoon (at the $6 for ticket and popcorn and small drink theater) was that the George Zimmerman trial ended yesterday with Zimmerman’s acquittal for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin in a gated community where Zimmerman was part of the neighborhood watch program.

The trial has consumed days of television and the themes of this science fiction film about a fictional future where anything goes for 24 hours of each year, in an effort to “release the beast” resonated. The year is 2022 and the night is March 21st—which, coincidentally, happens to be my husband’s birthday.

“The purge” is upon the populace (actual filming took place in Chatsworth, California) and all the well-to-do people have invested heavily in security systems to protect themselves during this one night of complete and utter lawlessness. Even murder is condoned the night of the purge, so it is best to be under lock and key.

Ethan Hawke has made a pretty penny selling security systems to all of his neighbors in the gated community.
Ethan and his wife and two children—a teen-aged daughter Zoe and a younger son Charlie—will be safely ensconced behind thick metal walls. “Blessed be America, a nation reborn.” Unemployment is 1% and this country-wide act of catharsis is supported by the populace, who place blue flowers outside to show their patriotic involvement with the sanctioned chaos going on outside their locked doors.

It is noted that “The poor can’t afford to protect themselves,” but who really cares about the poor? As the plot has it, “The purge allows people a release. This night saved our country, unburdening the economy. It is the eradication of the poor and those unable to defend themselves.”

Certainly the “fine, young, very educated guys and gals” who come calling at the Sandens’ house, demanding that the “dirty homeless pig” who has been given safe haven inside the Sandens’ home hold the poor to be fair game. They gather outside Ethan Hawke’s home and give him a deadline to turn over the African American homeless person compassionate son Charlie has taken pity on and allowed into the sanctuary the Sandens’ home provides.

Give him up, is the message, “It’s fight night. We don’t want to kill our >own,” says the psychotic leader of this demented Manson-like gang. But if the Sandens don’t turn over “the piece of flesh that you are protecting,” which the gang says “exists only to serve our needs of the purge,” then the mob will kill them all.

What to do! What to do? The message to Ethan Hawke is “It’s time for you to quiet down and let us do our duties as Americans.” Otherwise, say the psychos gathered outside the house waiting for reinforcements that will allow them to breach the fortified walls, “Was his life really worth yours?”

As security system salesman James Sanden says to his wife (Lena Headey) as they huddle helplessly inside, “Things like this are not supposed to happen in our neighborhood.” She responds, “But they’re happening, James. They’re happening right now.”

It comes down to a simple restatement of the issue: “It’s him or us.”

James Sanden votes for “him” and attempts to duct tape the poor, bloody, wounded homeless man to a chair on rollers, planning to sacrifice him to the hungry crowd, even though, as he is overpowering the helpless man he says, “We didn’t do anything to deserve this and you don’t deserve it.”

Shades of Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman.