Strap yourself in! The Purge: Election Year ramps up the carnage, humor, and bloody satire. It’s a B-movie with a budget that smartly embraces the pulp. The idea of fascist right wingers using murder and anarchy to fuel economic repression isn’t so out of touch in the modern world. The series has evolved from house based horror to an all encompassing political statement on violence. The decision to bring back Frank Grillo as the lead from the second film was spot on. One of my favorite character actors, he embodies weariness and resolve. The plot structure is identical to the others. Survive the night with a presidential twist.
The New Founding Fathers of America have a major problem. Their candidate for president is losing in the polls to pacifist Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell). Her platform is to eliminate purge night. The NFFA removes the rule against killing elected officials during the purge to target her. They radically underestimate her chief of security, Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo). He gave up being a cop to protect the senator and her message. Their odyssey escaping the NFFA aligns them with a neighborhood deli owner (Mykelti Williamson). He never dreamed protecting his store on purge night would end up as a battle for control of the country.
The Purge: Election Year is gruesomely violent. The filmmakers aim for realistic butchering and hit the bullseye. Scene after scene of horrific imagery speaks to the chaos of anarchy. Anyone going to see this film has to be aware of this, so that’s to be expected. The second film became much more of an action film as the plot progressed. This outing is a solid action flick from the start. There’s a lot of gunplay and hand to hand combat. Grillo is deadly with a knife, shredding baddies like lettuce. But he’s not invincible or a superman. I like the fact that he needs to be rescued several times as well. It reinforces how dangerous every corner is.
The film plays to a lot of racial stereotypes. The villains are all rich white people using religion to cull the poor. Blacks and Latinos are uniformly the underclass, fighting the man while spouting ethnic jokes. Normally this would annoy the hell out me, but honestly, it’s funny and entertaining. The Purge: Election Year has a fairly decent entertainment factor. Yes, most of what you’re seeing is ridiculous, but comes off as a fun ride. I credit that the movie is loaded with action. There are too many headshots to get bogged down.
The Purge: Election Year continues the best series from Producer Jason Blum. He’s the guy that cranks out micro-budget horror schlock like The Conjuring, Insidious, and Paranormal Activity. Here, he spends a bit more money and gets a more engaging film. The Purge: Election Year won’t win over critics, but will definitely be a hit with general audiences. Grillo owns this film like he did the last. I can’t imagine he won’t headline the inevitable sequel.