It’s time to purge again! The year is 2023 and the eve of the annual holiday of mayhem and murder approaches. Every year the American government allows one night of effective anarchy where every crime from theft to cold blooded murder become legal for one 12 hour period. The third installment of the franchise, The Purge: Election Year, drops us into the middle of a contentious race for the American presidency. Rising rapidly in the polls, Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is entangled in an aggressive bid for the presidency of the United States against the pro-purge candidate. Having barely survived the night or horror 18 years before, she is running with the intent to put an end to the yearly chaos which she argues predatorily targets the poor for eradication. Frank Grillo returns to the franchise as Leo Barnes, the now head of security for Senator Roan, 2 years after his own soul searching scrape with the purge. As darkness falls and the sirens blast, signaling the start of the purge, what begins as a night of vigilance and security checks at the Senators locked down home, soon becomes an exercise in dystopian survivalism, when she finds herself targeted by an organized force of mercenaries.
I was really excited to see that Frank Grillo’s character Leo Barnes was written into this film after starring in the second one. He had less to work with script wise in terms of character development this time around, but he was still great and we already got the character story in Anarchy, so I can let that slide. I will however, admit to a personal bias here because I really like Grillo as an actor and I kind of want him to play The Punisher should Hollywood ever decide to try that again (outside of Netflix’s Daredevil of course). The Purge: Anarchy was pretty Punishery, if you ask me, but that’s a conversation for another time. Staring alongside Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell who plays Senator Roan is competent in a role that’s pretty flatly written. She’s not great, she’s not bad, but she gets the job done. The best performance of the film comes from Mykelti Williamson, who played corner store owner Joe Dixon, who finds himself wrapped up in the evenings attempts to save the Senator, as he fights to protect his business from the night of bedlam. He gets all the laugh lines, introduces a lot of charisma into his character, and honestly, is helped by a script which makes him more three dimensional than any of the other characters.
I’ve reviewed the previous installments of what is now The Purge trilogy and I remember saying in my review of The Purge: Anarchy that while the original film seemed to lightly tread in the thematic waters of unregulated capitalism, exploitation of the poor through the unequal distribution of wealth, and racial politics, the second stood on a soapbox and reinstated those themes loudly and proudly. Well, The Purge: Election Year shouts them from the roof top, through a megaphone, while unraveling a 500 foot printed banner. There is absolutely no subtlety here. This film is about those very ideas and seeks to questions the lengths to which society is willing to go to maintain the illusion of order. The timing of the film is impeccable. It’s as if writer James DeMonaco knew what the actual current race for the American presidency would devolve into. My only criticism of the film initially was that some of the aggressors come off as too cartoonish and over the top in their ritual, dress, and attitude while purging, but in retrospect that overly dramatized sentiment itself works to satirize the circus-like media overload of the modern election process.
Drawing from a very real conversation that is being had in America politics about the establishment, the marginalization of the masses, exploitation of the poor, and racial tension, The Purge: Election Year doesn’t hide its commentary and satire. It’s pretty blatant about what it wants to say and the audience in my screening openly cheered multiple times throughout the film, so it definitely succeeds in speaking to its audience. But even if everything that I mentioned about politics, satire, and themes bored you to tears, don’t let that turn you off from the film. It’s a great action/horror/dystopia film. Its chock full of costumed killers, shootouts, gang fights, and car chases. It’s entertaining as hell and you won’t be disappointed.
|The Purge: Election Year|
|Release Date:||July 1st, 2016|