The Purge: Election Year is the third instalment in James DeMonaco’s Purge film series. Frank Grillo reprises his role as Leo Barnes, but this time, he is the head of security for Senator Charlie Roan who is running for president promising to end the annual Purge. Naturally, this creates some enemies and the fun begins.
The Purge is an intriguing premise, but any great film requires much more than an interesting starting point. While the first film may have missed the mark a little, the second and especially the third took the interesting premise and built upon it to make really great movies. There are very few series’ that are able to learn from their past mistakes and continue to grow as the films go on and The Purge is one of them. Election Year was a little more daring with its violence creating a highly entertaining film. The violence is fucked up, people escalate to new levels, seemingly getting more and more violent and creative as the years progress. Then there are the subtly disturbing ways they portray people Purging using simple shots or short scenes that gave you enough to think “that’s really messed up” but not so long that it took away from the central plot. You got to see and experience that was occurring on Purge night without diverting from the main crisis.
The political aspects are also amped up in Election Year as well, highlighting how the working poor are affected, the ways those in poverty find sanctuary, and how people choose to resist and stand up against something they don’t believe in. Whether that’s volunteering their time as doctors or inflicting pain and punishment upon those who cause their own pain. The film covered as many bases as possible without the storyline getting confused or jumbled. It stayed consistent and entertaining with its narrative while being extremely well-paced throughout its entirety. It sucks you in with a screwed up opening scene and you never lose interest from that moment.
The one thing I wish they included is how really young children are affected by this. They grow up in a culture of violence. Imagine how disturbing it would be to see an eight-year-old out with a gun and their parents teaching them how to Purge. It’s drastic but the whole film is drastic and something along the lines of that could have been a small but interesting addition.
The style of storytelling was slightly predictable but worked for what was needed. I’ve gone on and gone about how much the story hit all the marks because for a film where it’s highlight is this captivating event, the narrative has to be extremely strong, and it is. Plus with the addition of great characters such as combat ready Leo, and the comic relief of Joe (Mykelti Williamson), a shop owner who gets tangled in the mess of things, it becomes easy to get invested. Joe was charismatic, kind and hilarious yet not someone to be fucked with and I loved his character. You feel for every single one of the main characters. You sympathise, fear, and hope for the best even when they may not be making the right decisions. It’s this connection to the characters that make it more than just an interesting story.
Overall, it was a well shot, extremely well-told narrative with lots of amazing violence and great actors/characters that tackled many political,philosophical, and moral issues. I had a great time with it and I’d easily classify the series one of my favourites.