It’s been two years since Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) stopped himself from a regrettable act of revenge on Purge Night. Now serving as head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), his mission is to protect her in a run for president and survive the annual ritual that targets the poor and innocent. But when a betrayal forces them onto the streets of D.C. on the one night when no help is available, they must stay alive until dawn…or both be sacrificed for their sins against the state.
“The Purge: Election Year” (2016 release; 105 min.) brings the continued stories of the Annual Purge, set somewhere in the not-too-distant future. As the movie opens, we are treated to a “Purge playlist” (T. Rex; George Clinton). and we witness how a family is being purged by an evil-doer. We then are told “18 Years Later–2 Days before the Purge”, as we get to know US Senator Roan, the sole survivor of the family massacre 18 years ago, and now campaigning to end the Purge. That is not to the liking of the ruling NFFA, a white supremacist-trending party. With Roan just 1 point behind in the polls, the NFFA decides that Roan must be ‘taken care of’ in the upcoming Purge. In a separate story line, we get to know Joe, owner of Joe’s Deli, who confronts some teenage women trying to shoplift candy. We’re 10-15 minutes into the movie at that point, but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you’ll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the third movie in the Purge franchise, again written and directed by James DeMonaco. The sole returning character from the second movie is Barnes (played by Fred Grillo), who now has become the head of security and trusted right-hand man of Senator Roan (played by Elizabeth Mitchell, still best known for her role in the TV series Lost). While DeMonaco cleverly picks up on certain undercurrents in the political scene as we know it today, as well as mixes in other current themes (the use of drones), the movie takes a dangerous turn by playing up the racial card to the max, with the NFFA clearly patterned after the South African ANC’s Apartheid regime. Political considerations aside, the movie does a good job of raising the tensions but for me the movie is also too predictable and frankly a bit too long.
“The Purge: Election Year” opened wide this weekend (to coincide with July 4, of course). The Saturday evening screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati was PACKED, and close to a sell-out. Seemed like the audience was enjoying the movie, hollering and hooting at all the bright moments. I sorta enjoyed the movie, although something bothered me about playing up the political and racial undertones. As a social experiment, the idea itself of an annual ‘approved’ purge, remains fascinating to check, although I believe that if the Purge franchise is to go on, some new ideas are badly needed. Bottom line: this is till worth checking out if you liked the first two Purge movie. If you are new to this franchise, I’d still recommend the first one as the standard bearer of this franchise.