Former Police Sergeant Barnes becomes head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge.Former Police Sergeant Barnes becomes head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge.Former Police Sergeant Barnes becomes head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge.
Third Purge film worldbuilds, but has the same strengths and weaknesses of it's predecessors
I have real mixed feelings about The Purge films. I've greatly enjoyed each one and am always excited for the next one to come out (I can't wait for the TV series!), but at the same time I've also always found each film a huge disappointment. This third installment does a better job than the previous films of delving more into the social-political context and ramifications of The Purge (an annual 12-hour period where the US government declares all crimes, even murder, legal). The story here is connected to the prior films in that the excellent Frank Grillo is now head of security for a US Senator fighting to end The Purge, who finds herself the night of The Purge being hunted down by The New Founding Fathers of America, the proponents of annual event. Another interesting story element is a former Purger, Betty Gabriel, who now drives a militarized Red Cross ambulance of sorts around the streets during The Purge to help innocent victims, who ends up helping Grillo and the senator. There's also Dwayne "Dante" Bishop returning again as a resistance moment leader fighting a Black Panther-like overthrow of The New Founding Fathers. Thematically, the second film did address issues of class and economics, which was lacking in the first film, including storylines about wealthy folks having poor folks pulled off the street to be murdered in the safety of their mansions, with poor folks starting to push back. Election Year continues those class warfare themes, but also brings in politics and how wealthy powerbroker and politicians collude to use The Purge for their own financial benefit, scheming to kill off wide swaths of the poor (really disappointed they didn't use The Dead Kennedys on the soundtrack). Also better than the previous films, writer/director James DeMonaco fills the screen with more memorable images of chaos in the streets. Some of the best are the Lincoln Memorial on fire and vandalized, a group of teen girls cruising around in masks, with guns, in a car covered in Christmas lights, and a then there's a enjoyably throwaway scene of an alleyway pit and the pendulum-like guillotine. DeMonaco also continues to worldbuild, besides introducing politicians debating merits of The Purge, there's "murder tourists" coming from other countries to the US to participate in the anarchy. The downside to this third installment is that it felt nowhere as lawless and frightening as the earlier installments. The first film was a more traditional of home invasion horror film, which lent itself to making The Purge something very scary on a small scale, but the two subsequent sequels felt more like action films, which somewhat muted the film's terrifying premiss. Also, these worldbulding elements, although interesting, felt more like throwaway ideas that were just tossed in and never fully explored. It's not bad that they were included in the the film and they certainly add to the world of The Purge, but again, they feel like missed opportunities. Overall, I was never bored by "The Purge: Election Year" and was in fact quite entertained, but I still feel like the film should have been scarier, with more horror elements, and although it did delve more into the subtext of the series original premiss, it felt like it was playing things too safe. Maybe the new TV series will be scarier and more incendiary in it's subtext.
- Aug 3, 2018
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