There are some movies that come around that have a concept or premise so solid that a movie has boundless possibilities as far as acting writing and direction. A solid premise can be the difference between the flops that are movies based on board games or video games, and original screen written hits such as Inception. The Purge series has a solid premise. That premise being that in a dystopian United States set in the not so distant future the New Founding Fathers enact the “Purge” in order to rid the society of evils that are detrimental to the country’s growth. The Purge is a twelve hour period in which all crime is legal to include (read:especially) murder. As a result of the purge unemployment and crime are both down to 1% as most are getting the crime out of their system once a year. (the unemployment probably has more to do with people being dead, the causality is never really explained here) The first and second movies “The Purge” and “Purge: Anarchy” respectively, cover the effects of the purge on first a family, and then a city, with the first sequel revealing that the reason for the creation of the purge may be more sinister than previously thought. These movies have all sorts of problems, however when they brush up against the idea of government sanctioned killing, and socioeconomic motivation as well as gun violence they make for an intriguing watch.
A few thoughts about ‘The Purge: Election Year’:
- Overwrought dialogue. At one point in the movie a man is standing in the middle of the street shirtless covered in blood yelling “It’s survival of the fittest, and I am the fittest!” Much of the theater laughed out loud however it is uncertain if this was actually written for laughs.
- Overly dramatic in weird places. Some of the problems with this movie are based in that it speculates that the world if given the opportunity is filled with sadistic killers. Not just people who will kill you if given the chance, but skipping, dancing, laughing, bathing in your blood sadists who are creative in the methods of your death. At times this was more difficult to watch than the actual violence itself which was plentiful.
- Shaky motivation by the antagonists. As alluded previously the motivation behind the purge is revealed to be more sinister than originally thought. However at times one could get the notion that the people behind the purge had some sort of deeply religious connection to “purging” themselves. Rather than continuing to think that the reasoning behind the purge was the reason revealed, many of the main antagonists seemed to be buying into their own nonsense which again was strangely religious to an uncomfortable degree. This was definitely a low point of much of the movie.
- Likable protagonists. Although much of the characterizations are pretty flat, it was hard not to root for the “good guys” in this one. There are a couple of deaths of faces the audience grew attached to that allowed the movie some room for heart and even added an element of reality after watching the slow motion scenes of skipping, dancing, laughing etc from before. For the most part the motivation of the protagonists seemed completely plausible in this universe.
- Solid ideas. As mentioned in the introduction the best parts of this movie came in the portions where it bumped up against some interesting ideas about government, oppression, revolution and the like. The world building was believable and for the most part you could accept the reaction of this world in its present state based on the parameters set either in this movie or previous movies. (To clarify, there is a part of the movie that talks about ‘murder tourism’ which I found fascinatingly realistic)
- Shaky writing. When the movie was not brushing up against noble or grand ideas about government it just became a typical slasher chase movie. At times it was a good one, but other times it was not so good.
All in all, these movies are cheap to make, extremely profitable and easy to watch. It would not be surprising to see another sequel next summer. Worth seeing, in the theater, without your kids. 2.75 of 5 stars.