Director: James DeMonaco
Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson
‘The Purge: Election Year’ is the third installment in a series of films that nobody really seems to care about. However, I think they’re decent little films, despite their many, many flaws. So how does this one compare against the other two? Well, it really doesn’t compare all that much. Not at all, actually. In fact, the only thing that connects this one to the others is the fact that they are all titled ‘The Purge’. Oh, and Frank Grillo.
So what went wrong? Nothing. Nothing at all and that’s the beauty of it. ‘The Purge: Election Year’ is the best film in the series to date and I’m really hoping they stop now, while they’re ahead. The plot is a typical “Purge” affair; you get one night to kill or, as they put it, “purge”. There are two, very important things that separate this iteration of ‘The Purge’ from its predecessors though; you can now kill the rich people and the senator wants to put an end to this awful, awful night.
The fact that you can now purge the rich folk gives the franchise that intensity it needs. And how the senator wants to end the whole thing really gives way to some very cool political situations (yeah, politics can be cool). Sadly though, the politics mostly took a back seat; feeling like a second thought rather than anything cohesive or, at the very least, interesting. This is especially weird seeing as how it is politics which drove the previous two films and made them interesting.
This brings me to the opinion that this is not actually a member of the “purge family”, or not a proper one at least. Instead of politics, it’s more of a tale about morality; a theme in which I actually find to be far more accessible and relatable. The themes, and messages therein, are exactly what this franchise needed, too.
Not only were the themes/messages a nice change of pace, but so was the pace itself. It felt more considered and it was far scarier than any of its predeccessors. The characters were cool and the story felt well-cared for; it’s like they finally understand what we’ve been wanting to see from this franchise. They also showed some more blood, which was always my biggest problem. ‘The Purge’ has always been too afraid to show any real violence, I feel. But this time, they threw their worries to the wind and said: “Fuck it! Let’s just show a guys head getting cut off by a guillotine”. And let me tell you, it was glorious!
All in all, there’s a lot to like about ‘The Purge: Election Year’ – I have barely even scratched the surface – and there’s very little to dislike. As far as “Purge” movies go, this one stands out by being what ‘The Purge’ should have been all along. I forget to mention this until now, but I have to say I liked how they used Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” track; It sounds like a bad idea on paper, but once in motion, it was ingenious.