Writer/Director James DeMonaco returns with the 3rd film in the series; The Purge: Election Year. What a perfect setting for the current American political climate, too! A highly charged election year where the state of the country’s soul is at stake, presided over by a Senator who wants to do away with the annual Purge and the Minister who will do anything to protect the people’s “rights to Purge”.
There really isn’t too much to spoil about this film, if you’ve seen the above trailer, then you know what you’re in for. The Purge: Election Year was originally supposed to be a prequel, explaining to the audience how/why the Purge came into being, but Frank Grillo agreed to play his recurring role of Leo Barnes again for the 3rd film. This allowed DeMonaco to go a different direction with the story. This may even be the best script of the trilogy.
If you are unfamiliar with the premise of “The Purge”:
“The New Founding Fathers of America” have established a new totalitarian government and a police state, following economic collapse and rising social unrest. On March 21 to 22 all crime (including murder) is legal, and all police, fire, and medical emergency services remain unavailable for twelve hours, from 7 P.M. that night until 7 A.M. the next day. The only rules are that no government officials with authorization levels of 10 or higher can be attacked (that changes in Purge: Election Year), and all weapons above Class 4 (explosive devices such as grenades, rocket launchers, bazookas, etc.) are forbidden. Anyone who violates the rules of The Purge would be publicly executed by hanging. The Purge has resulted in crime and unemployment rates plummeting to 1%, and a strong economy. Although it is thought to be used as an act of catharsis for the U.S. populace, in reality, it is used as a method of artificial population-control, as the unemployed poor in slum neighborhoods are usually the main targets.
In Election Year, the annual Purge evolved into something even more ritualistic than ever before, resembling a religious experience more than a societal horror. Happening smackdab in the middle of a pretty fired up presidential election, the hottest topic of the debates is the purpose and longevity of the annual event. Senator Charlie Roan played by Elizabeth Mitchell (LOST, ER) wants to do away with the night of killing, and is campaigning on a platform of reform. Her opponent Minister Edwidge Owens played by Kyle Secor (Veronica Mars, Resurrection) wants to keep the night alive, as well as giving further power to “The New Founding Fathers” and various government entities who fund various Purge activities.
Frank Grillo (Kingdom, Captain America: Civil War) is back as Leo Barnes, the secret service military expert hellbent on protecting Senator Roan during the night. As a leading man, he carries the brunt of the gun toting action, but not the humor.
The cast of secondary leads is pretty stellar, this is really THEIR film more than the ‘leads’. Mykelti Williamson (Forrest Gump, Con Air) is Joe Dixon, all around good guy and owner of a local convenience store where much of the action takes place. He is the joke line guy, delivering almost all the funny lines and audience thoughts. Joe’s trusty sidekick Marcos played by Joseph Julian Soria (Hamlet 2, Army Wives) holds his own, and gets some good marksmanship shots in. They are joined by neighborhood Purge legend Laney, played by Betty Gabriel, who drives a mobile triage unit to help the injured during the violence of the night.
There are plenty of bloody jumpscares for those of you looking for a thrill, this film like the others in the series is not for the feint of heart. Not to mention the roving gangs of Eurotrash dressed as American icons and the schoolgirl murder posse.
No really, there is a bunch of crazy school girls who are filmed like some kind of mid 90’s music video, led by “Freakbride” Brittany Mirabile. I would watch an entire film JUST about their gang.
There was a subtle-not-so-subtle LOST reference that *I* found hilarious. During a scene in character Joe Dixon’s convenience store, one of two school girls steal a candy bar. If you don’t look closely you’ll miss it, but the brand of candy is none other than Apollo, the only non-Dharma labeled foodstuff on “The Island”. It also makes a surprise appearance on ABC’s Once Upon A Time in the first season as Henry’s favorite candy.
SCORE: 7 OUT OF 10, saw in standard non 3d
Also, the inclusion of a David Bowie track at the end of the film was an inspired choice. There I was, singing along, while the audience exiting the theater during my screening looked at me in horror.
The Purge: Election Year opens worldwide on Friday, July 1st 2016.
Want to know what Geekgasm thought? Check out their review: