The Purge: Election Year
I’ve been a fan of the Purge series for the most part. The first entry was a fairly solid home invasion horror film with a tense first hour and a typically great performance from Ethan Hawke. It’s sequel, Anarchy, was a legitimate thriller. It gave us interesting characters, more insight into the annual purge, intense sequences, and an emotional payoff. The third entry into this series is, I’m sorry to say, a disappointment.
Writer/director James DeMonaco plays up the political angle of the series to the point that the film loses it’s focus on story. Politics has never worked well in this series because while it vehemently denounces the right-wing politics, it also embraces them and uses it as the primary form of entertainment. The villains in this film in particular are violent, gun-loving, rich white Americans who hate the lower class and use the annual purge to wipe them out – bettering the American economy while they’re at it. This is how much of Hollywood has portrayed right-wing politics as long as I can remember. However, the “heroes” of this film are no different from the villains, we just see the film from their perspective. They are rarely defending themselves and are typically going in guns-blazing, murdering everyone in sight. Even though the politics were arguably the main draw for the film critics, I still don’t think this works as a good piece of entertainment.
Like I said before, this film is a disappointment when compared to the previous installments. We get maybe two-and-a-half solid sequences here that deliver any kind of tension or pure entertainment. Bringing in reliable actors like Mykelti Williamson, Elizabeth Mitchell, Terry Serpico, and Raymond J. Barry hurts the film because they are fairly wasted in their roles. No character has an arc, nobody changes throughout the film. From the offset, the “good” guys stay the “good” guys, and the bad guys stay bad. I was actually looking forward to this film because I thoroughly enjoyed Anarchy, and they brought back the main character of that film, played by Frank Grillo. He’s always fun to watch, having been on my radar since his great turns in Warrior and The Grey. His character in Anarchy was a real highlight and he was the best part of Election Year (even though they didn’t give him much to do after the first 20 minutes).
If you are a fan of the series, you might as well check this out to see where the story goes. If you are looking for a horror film, look elsewhere. If you are looking for an action film, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a solid thriller, you could do much better.
Runtime: 1 hour, 49 minutes