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Review - The Purge Election Year

By midlandsmovies, Aug 7 2016 08:13PM

The Purge: Election Year (2016) Dir. James DeMonaco

The Purge films (now a trilogy) about a near-future where for one day of the year all crime including murder is LEGAL for 12 hours, began its life with a low budget house invasion movie with Ethan Hawke in 2013. This was followed up by Purge: Anarchy that continued to carve out a b-movie niche as it flipped the original’s one-location premise to encompass a city-wide night escape (similar to Judgement Night or The Warriors).

Now on its third film, the Purge series ups the ante by setting the story against the politicians who introduced the concept, who covertly arrange an attack on a potential Presidential candidate who is in opposition to it.

What I like about the films is two-fold. Firstly, although not attempting to be high art they have a simple and solid idea at their core. A what-if scenario? What would society be like without rules? What is it like to be let off the chain, even just for a few hours? The film series has played on this set up from different characters’ point of views and is not necessarily bound by following an “arc”. The first sequel ditched the suburban family from the original as we followed a loner LA copy in the city who is drawn from seeking vengeance into protecting others which was a great switch by the writer-director, DeMonaco.

The second is the balance between the good idea and its low-budget schlock limitations. This concept allows the films to explore a number of serious ideas whilst still being a lot of fun with brutal violence, fighting and plenty of action. The director knows his limits however, yet makes the very most of them. Not contained by huge studio demands, DeMonaco has fun with costume designs, a cast of unknowns (who can be killed without fear of losing a “star”) and themes that typical “franchise” films wouldn’t dare take a risk with.

This film follows both of those notions as the same LA cop (Frank Grillo as Leo Barnes again) is now in charge of protecting a Senator who opposes the purge. Taking into account a wide range of society – we follow folks from shopkeepers, tactical SWAT teams, a Crips gang and some “founding fathers” – the diverse array of citizens again hint on bigger ideas whilst essentially not losing a fast paced group-on-the-run narrative.

Silly, preposterous and certainly not smart, the Purge is a superb low-budget success story and although I loathe to use box office figures in reviews (in fact never having done it before) it is great to see the series profit to the tune of 10xtimes its budget (!) in stark contrast to the billion dollar break-even points of bigger blockbusters.

If you failed to enjoy the other films, then you’ll find nothing more to satisfy you here, just more of the same nasty throwaway Saturday night thrills that are enjoyable if you take the frivolous fun at face value.


Midlands Movies Mike

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