The Purge: Election Year (2016)
Directed & Written by James DeMonaco
Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Raymond J. Barry, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Liza Colón-Zayas, David Aaron Baker, Christopher James Baker, Britanny Mirabile, Juani Feliz, Roman Blat, Jamal Peters, J. Jewels
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Years after sparing the man who killed his son, former police sergeant Barnes has become head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge.
I’ve really liked all three of these movies & they’ve even gone up in my estimation over time. After this final film, I can say that I think this has been a very solid trilogy overall. I wasn’t disappointed with this (final?) film and can confirm that we do get a conclusion of sorts. As much as I’ve enjoyed these, I hope they leave this as a trilogy instead of milking it to death the way they do with so many other movies nowadays. Learn when to stop, Hollywood! I think this trilogy will end up more respected in the future if they end it here.
I did quite long reviews/discussions of the first film (HERE) and the second, The Purge: Anarchy, (HERE). Both times I said that I absolutely love the overall concept but wish they could do a bit more with it. I’ve lost track of how far into the future these are meant to be set but know it’s not too far (I think the first one was about nine years into the future?). The future setting is completely unnecessary anyway as they don’t look much different from modern day America and this is especially true of Election Year, which I felt finally managed to get its point across slightly more than the first two films.
The idea of an annual “Purge”, in which all crime including murder is legal for one night, seemed somewhat far-fetched when the first film came out in 2013 so it’s scary that it no longer feels quite so unlikely just three years later. The idea behind these films is brilliant in that I know they’re meant to be a social commentary on the state of America & to almost be a warning of the way things feel they’re headed. Election Year comes the closest yet to making some sort of important statement & has come out at the perfect time but it still doesn’t quite manage to drive home the fact that people need to wake up & do something if they don’t want the dystopian future predicted in so many great works of fiction over the years. It’s becoming reality now. We’re seriously f*^ked.
Election Year is the strangest of the three in that I think I actually enjoyed it the most but, at times, it’s also the most ridiculous of the three. It tries to be entertaining as well as smart & the two don’t always work together. I’m anti-violence so am a fan of these because they’re trying to show that violence is wrong (while at the same time showing us extreme violence). This isn’t the first time this has been done but it’s very hard to do right (I felt that Natural Born Killers got this right, which I watched for the first time this year & thought was really good). The Purge movies feel like they’re a little too scared to get too serious & still aim to mainly please the horror-loving mainstream audience who won’t care about the message.
I still maintain the unpopular opinion that the first film is the “best” as it was such an original idea and didn’t feel the need to go over the top while the next two were more “fun” as they changed things up to appeal to a more mainstream audience. I do like that each film goes wider to show us the effects the Purge has had, which is what I was hoping for after the first film. They even threw a tiny bit into this one regarding other countries (murder tourists coming to America to join in on the annual Purge). But the baddies were such over the top caricatures in this film that it was too silly at times, which was a shame as I really liked everything else about the film.
I have to say that the main characters in Election Year (the good guys) are the best of all three films, though, making this movie the most enjoyable. Frank Grillo was great in the second one so I’m glad they chose to continue with him, linking these two and making the first one feel more like a stand alone film now. I always liked Elizabeth Mitchell in Lost & loved her in this (the only way I’d maybe want a sequel would be to hopefully see her hook up with Grillo’s character!). Can I vote for her NOW? She’s what real-life America needs & I totally agree with her politics. Then there are the three in the below photo: deli owner Mykelti Williamson, his employee Joseph Julian Soria, and kick-ass customer & friend Betty Gabriel. These three are so damn likable and, as I said, Betty Gabriel is totally kick-ass. My only complaint is that they’re almost too likable & their fate(s) extremely predictable. But, hell – I honestly don’t mind characters who are a bit cliché since it beats having a movie filled with main characters you hate. I’d happily be stuck with this group of people on Purge night.
This has admittedly been a very weak year for movies but I can honestly say that this is currently my third favorite film of 2016. I know I like this series more than most people seem to but I’m hoping these will gain more of a following (probably several years from now when these are likely to be even closer to reality & people realize how accurate they were). The characters are a bit too cliché to take too seriously but they were a lot of fun to watch & the story was probably the strongest overall of the three. It’s still not perfect but I appreciate the effort they’ve made with this series & its overall idea.
My Rating: 7.5/10