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James Sandin is the main protagonist of the 2013 film The Purge, at least until his death and then his wife Mary picks up the role as the lead character. 

He is portrayed by Ethan Hawke, who also portrayed Todd Anderson in Dead Poet's Society, Jake Hoyt in Training Day, Jack Valentine in Lord of War, and Prince Hamlet in the 2000 film adaptation of Hamlet.


Sometime in the future, around 2022, annually, for 12 hours, all crime is legal so as to allow people to "purge" their anger, keeping crime and poverty low all year. Hours before the annual Purge commences, security system salesman James Sandin returns to his home in the affluent gated community of a Los Angeles suburb to prepare for holding out the night with his wife Mary and their two children, Zoey and Charlie. The family is assured that the security system from James's company, which his house as well as many of the homes in the development are outfitted with, will keep them safe. Zoey sees her boyfriend Henry, an older boy whom James dislikes. James enables the security system, which includes a remote camera monitoring system and metal plating that seals the home. The Purge begins, and the family disperses in their home to go about their normal routine.

Zoey returns to her room to find Henry had snuck back before the security system was engaged, and he plans to confront James about their love while they are in confined spaces. Meanwhile, Charlie watches the security monitors and sees a wounded man trying to find help. He temporarily disables the system to allow the man, Dwayne, into the house. James races to re-engage the system and holds Dwayne at gunpoint as Henry comes downstairs and pulls a gun on James. Henry's shot misses, but James fires back, fatally wounding Henry, and in the chaos, Dwayne disappears and hides elsewhere in the house. Henry makes his way back to Zoey's room before dying and she takes his gun while James takes Mary and Charlie back to the security control room.

As James scolds Charlie, they witness a group of young adults wielding guns and wearing masks approach the house. Their leader unmasks himself and warns them via the cameras that the man they have taken in is homeless and a prime target for the Purge and if they don't return the man within an hour, they will break into the house and kill everyone. As the gang cuts power to the home, James is forced to admit that the security systems are only meant as a deterrent and would not protect against a forceful invasion. He and Mary go off to find Dwayne, intent on turning him in, while Charlie, using a remote-controlled toy, finds him and lures him to a secret space to hide him from his parents. Zoey inadvertently stumbles into the space, and Dwayne takes her hostage as James and Mary converge on him. The family realizes that they are acting as bad as the Purgers, and they decide not to turn him over.

The Purger gang, their deadline having passed, proceed to use a truck to rip the metal plating from the front door and enter the home. James kills several of them before he himself is killed by the leader. Just as Mary is about to be killed, the family's neighbors, the Ferrins, come to their aid, killing most of the Purger gang. The leader of the conspiracy makes a final attempt at purging by killing the family, but Zoey steps out from a hallway and shoots him repeatedly with Henry's gun, killing him. Although the Sandins are initially relieved that the neighbors had saved them from the Purgers, the neighbors reveal they had come there to kill the Sandins as they are jealous of their wealth due to the sales of security systems. Dwayne emerges and kills one of the neighbors before they can kill the Sandins. Mary says there has been too much killing that night and along with Dwayne, watches the neighbors while they wait out the remainder of the Purge in peace.

Just before the end-of-purge siren sounds, Grace Ferrin attempts a last-ditch effort at purging by attempting to grab Mary's gun off the table. Mary thwarts this attempt by striking Grace in the face with the butt of her gun and then slamming Grace's head in the table, breaking her nose. As the Purge ends, the neighbors leave for their own homes along with Dwayne. Mary, Zoey, and Charlie watch as emergency services come to retrieve the dead.

The film's credits end on news reports saying that this Purge was the most successful one yet, spurring the stock market with sales of more security systems and weapons.

Weapons in the Safe

  • Taurus Raging Bull revolver in .454 Casull
  • Kimber Warrior pistol
  • Ruger P95 pistol
  • SIG-Sauer P226 pistol
  • Taurus PT92AFS
  • Mossberg 590 "Chainsaw" shotgun


           ThePurgeLogo.png Heroes

The Purge
James Sandin | Mary Sandin | Charlie Sandin | Zoey Sandin | Dante "Dwayne" Bishop/The Stranger

The Purge: Anarchy
Leo Barnes | Cali Sanchez | Eva Sanchez | Shane | Liz | Carmelo Johns | Dante "Dwayne" Bishop

The Purge: Election Year
Charlie Roan | Leo Barnes | Joe Dixon | Marcos Dali | Laney Rucker | Dante "Dwayne" Bishop

The First Purge
Isaiah Charms | Nya Charms | Dimitri Cimber | Dolores | 7&7 | Blaise | Kels | Lorenzo

TV series

Season 1

Miguel Guerrero | Penelope Guerrero | Jane Barbour | Rick Betancourt | Jenna Betancourt | Pete the Cop

Season 2

Esme Carmona | Marcus Moore | Michelle Moore | Darren Moore | Ryan Grant | Tommy Ortiz | Sara Williams | Doug Vargas | Vivian Ross | Turner | Kelen Stewart |