I got a chance to see the latest movie in the "Purge" series tonight at a pre-screening; here are my thoughts: The Purge: Election Year My Grade: B+ _______________________________ The Purge series of films is an interesting one; in that it's a series of movies (almost an anthology one) born from a kick-off movie that's.... tepid at best. The first movie presented us with the notion of this world that at some point in the future America's leaders -"The New Founding Fathers of America" rebuilt a struggling nation with high crime and unemployment rates and huge budgets going to help the poor and needy by going with the "simple" idea of allowing everyone to "purge" themselves of their violent needs and tendencies on one night a year by making all crime, including murder, legal. The presented idea is that this lets everyone get these violent or anti-societal needs out of their system and not need to do it at other times of the year but, behind the scenes, those in charge really see it as a means of population control since the poor are most often the victims -not having the means to defend or protect themselves- and without the poor less money needs to go into government programs to support them. It's an interesting if ludicrous idea that doesn't hold much water; especially when we see this "future" society and see that it's not too much removed than present day (i.e. the technology, cars and such all more-or-less correspond to present day ones. Meaning it takes place in the present or very near future; meaning that these "NFFA" events occurred in an alternate past rather than a presented future.) But the first movie doesn't make much use of it, pretty much trapping the movie inside a single, rich family's, home as they protect a poor stranger from a group of "purgers" wanting to dispatch him. It's a glorified home-invasion story. But the movie was enough of a financial success -due to a small budget- that a sequel was given; a sequel that took the premise to it's logical point and where the movie series needs to stay. The sequel follows a former cop, played by Frank Grillo likely doing an audition role for The Punisher, who lost his son in a collision with a drunk-driver some time ago and is using Purge Night as an opportunity to kill the driver who managed to get off on a technicality. While out he comes across a young couple in the early stages of divorce and a mother and daughter caught outside after being nearly captured by a government-contractor rounding up people for "mass purgings" to increase the numbers for the night to give people the idea the concept is working (true crimes are on the decline either due to people not purging or most people staying inside in protection.) The movie follows our group as they try and to survive the night on "the street level" from both these government contractors rounding people up and other purgers as well as Grillo wrestling with his own issues along his arc; ultimately deciding to not kill the man when he ends up at his house. This action paying off when the man himself saves Grillo from being killed by the leader of the contractors just before the year's Purge ends. It plays off as a good survival-action movie that feels very much in the style of an 80s or 90s post-apocalyptic survival movie; something like "Escape from New York" or "Running Man." The Purge: Election Year - Continues that trend and feeling as well as bringing back Frank Grillo who didn't get to be The Punisher but is still a great and welcome presence in this movie. Seemingly set a year after the events of the previous movie, it's an Election Year and the two candidates up for President is a man who's a member of the "NFFA" party and speaks in grandness, religious rhetoric and praise for the (New) Founding Fathers (Hmmmm..... I wonder what party he's meant to represent?) the other candidate is an Independent Senator woman whose platform is one to end The Purge seeing it for what it is, designed to kill the less fortunate, and that it's a moral outrage for it to exist. Herself the sole survivor when her family was captured by a Purger 18 years earlier. Frank Grillo from the second movie is back and he heads up her security/Secret Service team and is set to protect her. The NFFA see her as a threat since she's strong in the polls so they arrange a plan to assassinate her. Usually during The Purge political figures are immune but that condition has been removed, the NFFA plan to capture the Senator and kill her during a religious ceremony near dawn -when The Purge ends. Grillo does the best he can to protect her given she's unwilling to partake in any heavy security or safety measures for fear of being seen as hypocritical or "above" her supporters and some members of his detail turn on him and he's forced to protect the Senator on the street during Purge Night. They run across a poor group of people who run a grocery store/deli in a poorer section of Washington D.C. as well as a woman known to be something of a folk-hero of Purge Night now working for an underground triage/protection group as usual Emergency Services aren't available on Purge Night. Part of this underground movement has plans of their own and our group gets caught-up in between protecting themselves and the Senator. The movie is, like the second one, a good ground-level action movie in an apocalyptic/dystopian setting as the group comes across Purgers as well as government officials set-out to kill the Senator they also find some unexpected allies in the very people The Purge is meant to rid the country of. There's probably some allegories we can make here but it's hard given that it's hard to recognize this universe as anything tangible. Usually in apocalyptic/dystopian movies the time period (whether the future or an alternate present) is presented to us in such a manner it's unrecognizable as our own world making it easier to to accept what is going on under suspension of disbelief. "It's the future so, sure." But here the movie presents itself as taking place in either an alternate present or a near-future in the way it looks, the technology we see, and such it's a harder pill to swallow. The movie makes up for it, however, being fun on a level to watch and actually giving us a group of characters to follow and root for. It's not uncommon in this genre of movie for the secondary characters for the two main "heroes" to play into certain tropes or cliches and for you to not be able to wait for these people to die. (A trope "Cabin in the Woods" plays with.) Rarely are these characters given any kind of set-up or humanity to them they're there to play a role. The wise-cracker, the slut, the man-xplainer; in The Purge: Election Year (as well as Anarchy) this doesn't happen, all of the characters are likable and you understand more than you would a character in any other genre of action/horror. There's really not a character here that I hated or wanted to see killed. They almost fit into cliches, roles, or tropes but not to an annoying or obvious enough degree since they were given depth before the action begins. Frank Grillo, like in the previous movie, does a great job in the action scenes as well as the personal ones and Elizabeth Mitchel also does a good job as the Senator set on her goals and morals and in making her seem like a person so many people would respect and follow, as well as the opposing party dislike. The movie's a bit silly and extreme when we meet-up with the NFAA group; but only because it's again where the premise of this world begins to fall apart. The things being said and such *almost* makes sense in the way some of our political leaders, and their supporters, behave but it's hard to mix in violent murder with that. The movie also has a couple pointless jump-scares in it (instigated more by a music sting than an actual visual surprise) which, honestly, feels beneath this series considering how it avoids the tropes with its characters, how well the action scenes are done and it's not exactly a jump-scare sort of movie. It's only slightly in the "horror" genre, more just the Violent Dystopia genre. But, in the end, it's a good sit. You have to really suspend your disbelief for the premise to work and there's a few goofy "showcase"/"artsy" scenes done for the sake of... "art" but there's some good action and good characters here. Plus, Frank Grillo kicks ass. So if you liked the second movie you'll like this one. If you didn't like the first movie and didn't see the second I'd suggest watching the second as it bares little resemblance to it's predecessor and then base that on whether you should see the third. Me, I await seeing the next "Purge" movie, more to see how/where they go with the premise given the ending of this movie or if they'll perhaps show us on how "The Purge" began or that very first Purge Night.