It’s a big ol’ Ethan Hawke day here at HitFix, and when you consider the distance between “The Purge” and “Before Midnight,” it’s hard to believe the two films have anything in common.
One thing that has always intrigued me about Hawke is the way he dodged some of the most apparent traps inherent to being an actor. If we haven’t seen him in a superhero movie yet, chances are we never will. He doesn’t seem to spend his time hunting down franchise roles, and even the big films he’s done feel like choices he made because he was genuinely drawn to something. There are very few films on his filmography that don’t make sense as choices, even if the films didn’t quite live up to their promise every single time.
When I sat down to talk to Ethan Hawke and Jason Blum during the press day for “The Purge,” I thought their professional relationship might have started with last year’s creepy “Sinister.” Instead, though, we ended up talking about how they’ve actually had a professional and personal relationship stretching back 20 years. I was genuinely surprised to learn they had opened a theater company together.
Even when I don’t like one of the films he makes (and I really didn’t care for “The Purge” at all), I am interested in what Jason Blum’s doing because he has a significant hand in changing the model for genre filmmaking in Hollywood. He has been aggressive about his genre movies in the four or five years, but he’s been building up to it for a lot longer. You look back at his earlier credits, and he was working in that same ’90’s indie financing world that everyone else was. The turning point for him professionally was producing “Paranormal Activity,” but even that was a slow burn thanks to the way the film took its time between production and eventual release, with lots of near-misses along the way. Since that film hit, he’s been more than busy, and even so, he’s still working in other genres.
In the end, I was glad to talk to them and give them a chance to make the case for their film. I wish I liked it as much as I liked the last time they worked together, but maybe you’ll feel differently.
“The Purge” opens this Friday.