HOLLYWOOD—Man, was I a fan of the 2013 thriller “The Purge” which introduced audiences to an idea that left so many people speechless. Could you imagine a government that allowed its citizens one-time during the year to commit murder and get away with it, without facing any consequences? Yes, this was the premise of the flick, and it was a box-office hit that was full of surprises. Fast forward to 2014, and the audience was delivered with the follow-up, “The Purge: Anarchy” which was an entertaining sequel.
Its 2016, and the third installment in the franchise, “The Purge: Election Year” unfolds what could be considered a worthy sequel to the original. Why? Well it decides to venture its narrative into an interesting place by tackling the idea of politics. Especially in a year where America is looking at one of the most hotly contested Presidential Elections I can recall in years. So it’s a touchy subject, but fun to watch how director and writer James DeMonaco (who has helmed all three films) tackles a narrative that is just as compelling as the actual election that is about to play out, minus the violence and bloodshed.
The flick opens to a young Charlie Roan who is portrayed by Elizabeth Mitchell watching her family murdered during the annual Purge event. Welcome to the present, where the audience learns Charlie is now a U.S. Senator and in the midst of campaigning for the U.S. Presidency in hopes of ending the Purge once and for all. She is in the midst of a hotly contested election as her rival Minister Edwidge Owens (Kyle Secor) who has the backing of the New Founding Fathers of America (who are big fans of the Purge), and with the annual event amongst them, they decide to take matters into their own hands to silence Senator Roan once and for all. Yes, we’ll talk more semantics about that event later.
Returning for this third chapter is Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) who was the protagonist in “The Purge: Anarchy.” It’s a treat to see Grillo return in the role as he was a character that audiences rooted for in the second installment and will also root for him in this third chapter. Unlike previous installments, this sequel has much more at stake because if Senator Roan dies any chances of ending the Purge perishes with her as well, which raises the stakes not only for Charlie and Leo, but countless others who become allies during the night including Joe (Mykelti Williamson), Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) and Laney (Betty Gabriel). It doesn’t hurt to see the return of Barnes’ foe Earl Danzinger (Terry Serpico) and familiar face from the first chapter Dante Bishop (Edwin Hodge).
There is no sugarcoating that this third chapter might be the bloodiest installment in the franchise to date, but the political overtones are something the audience simply cannot ignore. Could “The Purge: Election Year” be argued to be a bit preachy, yes, but when it comes to politics it always raises a debate, and the issue of the poor vs. the rich comes to center stage yet again. Who actually benefits from the Purge? Why is the Purge so important to some people, while others see it as an attack on the middle and lower class?
No, this movie is not going to go into a vault as being one of the best to tackle such social issues, but one must give credit to the film for having the guts to address an issue that is of importance even if it manifests in a government that is likely to never allow it in reality.
“The Purge: Election Year” is fun, entertaining and gets that mind thinking yet again, with that question the first flick asked: “Just what would you do if the Purge actually existed?” Would you participate or be an advocate to end something that wipes out those of a lower social class than those at the top?