The Purge: Election Year – 3 out of 5
The first film in The Purge franchise had a decent concept that I enjoyed but ultimately was luke-warm towards the final product. Home invasion films are things that, in theory, should scare the hell out of me because the idea of my private sanctuary being invaded is terrifying but this horror subgenre doesn’t really get me that creeped out. The sequel, however, I really enjoyed because it was more of an action/horror film with thriller elements that showed just how ugly our society has the potential to get if this concept was actually put into practice—plus, I really dug Frank Grillo in the lead role. For this latest release, The Purge: Election Year, I was anticipating the entertainment that I got from the last one and, with this horror show that was this last election, the feature felt like it might have been the most poignant of them all. But was it though?
|Bubba is in the film...and tells the Purgers all about the different ways|
to prepare shrimp.
Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) rose to prominence in the political world after her family was victimized by The Purge when she was younger. Her mission is to eliminate the practice; one that seems to intentionally target the poor, homeless, minorities and makes the privileged even more wealthy. At her side is Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), her head of security. As the dreaded 12-hour event that allows all crime to be legal nears, Barnes goes into overdrive to make sure she will be secure in her home. Unfortunately, there is a mole in her security team that wants to see the Senator and presidential nominee eliminated so The Purge can continue. Now Charlie and Leo are on the run out in the open in the wilds of The Purge trying to make it through the night so that she can continue to get her message to the people and try to change the country.
|Look at this nerd with her glasses and desire to make her country safer|
|Seriously, why isn't Grillo in more action movies?|
Overall, Election Year isn’t a terrible addition to a mildly entertaining franchise. There are some genuinely shocking moments that, given how some people acted at a certain orange man’s rallies, are made all the more frightening because this no longer feels like fiction and more like a prediction of how things could end up with a horrible select group of people and the performances within it are pretty good. Once again, I really enjoyed Frank Grillo in his role and would really like to see this guy show up in more action films because I really think he has what it takes to be a leading, action role type of guy. Additionally, the story isn’t too bad and progresses the thoughts laid out in the first and last film fairly well—hell, it even has an ending that promises that there could be more in the future…whether we really need them or not. The one thing that really killed this movie for me, though, was the complete lack of subtlety.
|He went from killing vampires to this?!? Why, Abe, why?|
|I take it he's the villian...|
The metaphors and themes played up in these movies have always been fairly on the nose. The way the story shows a clear line between the wage gag and race as it concerns who is the Purge-er and who is the Purge-ees has been fairly obvious. However, in this third go-around, the hammering home of the idea that it’s the lower class and non-whites who are the victims in these events is painted so painfully obvious that it’s pretty laughable. I like the themes this film delivers and how it showcases who are the real victims in an endeavor like this and who are the sick sacks that would flourish and would gain from The Purge but when you have one of the antagonist literally as a Neo-Nazi skinhead complete with “White Power” and Rebel Confederate flag patches on his uniform and tattoos of swastikas on his head, you kinda have driven passed creative and subtle means of storytelling and have delivered your message and morals with all the delicacy and precision of a nuclear bomb. It really made the film more laughable than meaningful.
|Probably not the most practical thing to wear when you are Purging.|
At its heart, The Purge: Election Year is serviceable but not terribly memorable. While there are some moments of shock, there’s nothing about it that really leaves an impact beyond how lazy and obvious the film’s themes feel. Some of the characters that Leo and the Senator run into are decent and easy to be engaged with but you can’t escape the laziness this script provided as the antagonists are cardboard cutout stereotypes and are just as blatant and obvious as the themes provided. Most of them seemed on the verge of laughing manically while they twirled their mustache and tied damsels to train tracks. It never gets truly terribly and is marginally better than most horror franchises are by the time they get to the third film but it’s ultimately forgettable and probably to the point that this franchise is over.