Review: The Purge: Election Year
When the first The Purge film starring Ethan Hawke was released in 2013, it was quickly received as an over-the-top unsubtly allegorical mess. This continued into its sequel The Purge: Anarchy. Writer/director James DeMonaco returns for the series’ third installment The Purge: Election Year, and he finally seems to be getting just why the previous films didn’t work.
Elizabeth Mitchell (LOST’s Juliette) stars as Senator Charlene Roan with Frank Grillo returning as Leo Barnes, the senator’s bodyguard. At the peak of her presidential race, Roan is campaigning to finally eliminate the annual purge, when makes all crime legal one night a year for twelve hours, and resulted in the death of her family eighteen years before. On purge night, an assignation attempt sends Roan and Barnes into the streets, where they must stay alive until dawn. Meanwhile, Joe (Mykelti Williamson of Forrest Gump) must protect his deli from a pair of angry hoodlums.
With the third installment, DeMonaco completely abandons all thinly veiled allegory, bringing the film into a familiar political and economic landscape. There are obvious connections to the current presidential candidates as well as some of the tasks they are approaching. DeMonaco plays with these familiar political situations, elevating them into intentional ridiculousness. The narrative is approached in such a simple and often predictable manner, which may be the fault in a film that works surprisingly well. The scares are effective, and more importantly DeMonaco creates an atmosphere that is upheld throughout.
The Purge: Election Year is pretty schlocky, which isn’t helped by its entirely one-dimensional characters. There is some poorly written dialogue that often teeters on the racist, where humour is obviously intended. Nevertheless, it is impossible to deny that the film is extremely fun, effective, and welcomingly obscene.