The Purge has become an almost annual tradition, much like its promotional material implies. As Saw used to be to the Halloween season, The Purge has started to mark its territory as the 4th of July. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they still have sequels up their sleeves to continue into “milking it” territory, but for now I’m OK with the yearly installments because they are (somehow) managing to keep this fantasy world fresh with new ideas. By now I’m sure the majority of people reading this already know what The Purge is about. One night out of the year the future government declares all crime legal in an effort to reduce crime for the remaining 364 days. From the trailers of these films alone one could easily write this trilogy off as torture porn with no substance and I would understand, but if they actually took the time to watch any one Purge film they would find a much deeper societal/political dialogue hidden behind the blood.
From the very first Election Year promo it was clear that they were out to capitalize on the insanity that is the idea of Trump being elected. The candidacy is probably the most controversial thing happening right now and it was a no-brainer to take that angle. If he gets elected a real life purge might not be far off!
Luckily, the movie doesn’t wholly focus on the single aspect of a Trump-like leader. There are plenty of street level scumbags that litter the screen. Once again, like in Election Year’s predecessor Anarchy, the usually normal pedestrians steal the show when they come out to release their chaos on their neighbors. There are a few small stories divvied up throughout encompassing various perspectives of this patriotic hell night. It’s these small one scene details, like foreigners flying over seas to see what all the rage is about to corner store owners trying to fend off little teenage brats wielding buzzsaws, that put the viewer in middle of the madness. It’s what keeps me coming back for more.
Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) returns with a more bland performance than usual but still holds the fast paced action together by a thread. Elizabeth Mitchell portrays a purge victim turned Senator and presidential candidate set to get rid of future purges. Her serene but stern ways (ones her character on Lost used deviously) are put to the test when certain rich people from the other side of the political spectrum put a bounty on her head in an attempt to keep the purge instated.
My biggest gripe with The Purge: Election Year is that the third act gets extremely slow and boring. The movie clocks in at an hour and forty five minutes- about twenty minutes too long. Maybe focusing less on the Senator aspect and more on the everyday citizens’ experiences would have proved even more fatiguing but it most likely wouldn’t have hurt to have even more variety. I will certainly be looking forward to the next chapter but I hope they don’t push the series too far.
4 Trump-alikes out of 5