Ethan Hawke's latest film "The Purge
" is set in the not too distant future and imagines a world where all crime is legal for one twelve hour period every year. The idea behind it, as explained in the film, is that it allows people to get all the pent-up frustrations, aggressions, and negativity out of their systems. Participation is even seen as patriotic. The truth, however, may be more sinister.
Of course, just like any good dystopian story, the film explores the sociological ramifications of a policy that only the rich can afford to protect themselves from and addresses the alternative motives behind it. It joins a list of films that have presented some troubling scenarios for the future. Let's take a look at ten of the better examples of this theme.ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
This cult classic stars Kurt Russell as "Snake Plissken" (what a great name), a World War III(!) veteran in the far-off year 1997(!!!). After Air Force One crashes onto the island of Manhattan, which after decades of decay has been transformed into a penitentiary, Plissken is sent in because they know he's a bad enough dude to rescue the President. This movie still holds up and is a Hell of a lot of fun, as is the 1996 sequel "Escape from L.A."THE ROAD WARRIOR
Source: Toei Company
If you ever thought "kids these days…" and didn't end that thought with "…should be forced to fight each other to the death until only one remains," then you're a better person than the people in this alternate future where an annual televised tournament of murder and mayhem is held to both entertain the populace and keep the younger population in check. If that premise sounds familiar, it's because it does bear some resemblance to the "Hunger Games" series. That's not to say it borrowed from "Battle Royale," however, since the idea is as old as recorded history (i.e. Roman gladiators).LOGAN'S RUN
On the other hand, maybe adults are the problem. The depletion of vital resources is a common theme in these movies, and in "Logan's Run" the answer isn't to pin the blame on the younger population, but to celebrate youth and executing people when they reach the age of 30. Which is a terrifying thought, because it means a world where Bob Dylan never got old enough to record "Blood on the Tracks" and without stuff like "The Fast & The Furious" franchise. Speaking of which…THE FAST & THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT
This one may surprise some people, but bear with us: every installment of the "Fast & Furious" franchise following this is, technically, a prequel. That means that this movie takes place in the future. Sure, you could argue that "Tokyo Drift" is set in the here and now and all the other movies take place in the past. But that's highly unlikely because none of the plots of the other movies center around the collapse of the housing market and none of the characters talk about how much they loved "The Avengers" - two elephants in the room that would need to be addressed if these films happened in the recent past. The only logical explanation is that, like the other movies on the list, "Tokyo Drift" shows us a future that we could be headed towards where cars are drifting a lot. We need to stop it before it's too late.
"The Purge" is in theaters June 7th. Like the other films on this list, it's a gripping action film, but it also uses its futuristic premise to address some pretty serious philosophical questions regarding our contemporary approach to crime and society.
See the film's star, Ethan Hawke, talk about the movie and much more in the latest episode of All Access Weekly