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Review: The Purge: Election Year

The Purge: Election Year
06.29.2016
6 10

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PLOT: After making a choice to save the life of the man who killed his son, a former police sergeant finds himself working for a presidential candidate. When Purge Night leaves he and his employer on the run, they must do all they can to survive a brutal night of terror, from which nobody is safe.

REVIEW: If there was ever a movie that you could point out just how good Frank Grillo is, one could easily talk about his involvement in THE PURGE franchise. The actor, once again, returns to a mad world where one night a year all crime is legal. Essentially, the government sanctioned Purge Night thins the herd, with one night of legalized crime and bloody violence. While the first film in the series was essentially a home invasion thriller, the sequels have expanded the world to see just how it effects a number of citizens. This time, it takes place right before a massive election. So get ready for a few not terribly subtle political statements, and a couple of jumps scares, for what is a better than expected sequel. THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR may not be a work of art, but it manages to have a little fun with its twisted concept.

Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) has been deeply affected by this very night. When she was a child, her entire family was murdered in front of her. This has led to her own bid for the presidency, against an opponent that feels the time honored tradition of The Purge has made the country stronger. However, on Purge Night, Senator Roan survives an assassination attempt but must face the unknown as well as many deviant purveyors of terror. Thankfully for the candidate, THE PURGE: ANARCHY survivor “Sergeant” (Frank Grillo) is head of her security team. While trying to make it out alive, they discover others facing off against the insanity. This includes a tough market owner played by Mykelti Williamson and his trusted employee (Joseph Julian Soria). They also find support from their friend (Betty Gabriel) who happens to risk her life every Purge to save those who are in need of saving.

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Writer/director James DeMonaco continues to build the mythology that feels almost too familiar. While this is simply a movie, you could easily draw comparisons to our current election. Some may be bothered by the slant taken here, however the exaggerated nature of this series may help diminish any ill will. The main villains have insidious plans for the good Senator, not only in hopes of destroying her campaign, but with they would like to silence her forever. Considering she lost her family to the destruction and mayhem before, she has vowed to put an end to Purge Night. This is one election promise that many don’t take kindly to. It may at times feel a bit heavy-handed, but it’s still a bit difficult to really take seriously - whatever the intentions, this is a movie that should be enjoyed as a fun popcorn flick and nothing more.

Where DeMonaco gets it right is the talent he brings. Grillo is solid as a man trying to do right by his employer. The actor takes the material seriously enough and handles the intense action like a pro. There is not a single moment that you don’t believe he could kick serious ass, and yet he is such a strong actor that the non-action scenes work just as well. Mitchell is also in top form as the idealistic candidate who refuses to play it safe. Sure some of her choices are more than a little foolhardy, but it makes sense why the character would react as she does most of the time. The supporting cast works in general, especially Williamson, Soria and Gabriel. The weakest additions include some of the nut jobs that plan to get in on the purge and find some good old-fashioned, bloody revenge. The “schoolgirl” looking for a candy bar was laughably silly, yet her outcome garnered a few cheers from the audience.

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Character wise, I was invested in the few survivors the story followed. The idea of bringing a political slant to this series works well enough. Even if the shock of seeing weirdos in masks has diminished considerably. Especially when they are so damn annoying. Not surprisingly, the villains are not developed even remotely as well as our heroes. In this case, it makes them far less frightening and perhaps a little ridiculous. Yet every so often, one scene will sneak up on you and remind you that you are watching a horror/action flick. When it comes to the on-screen violence, there is a ton of it. Most of the time it is effective, but the excessive use of close-ups and the distorted view of the temporarily anarchic society sometimes lessened the tension. Still, it’s easy to disappear in it all and enjoy the ride.

THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR has proven that you can improve on a mediocre first film. As this franchise progresses, it manages to add a layer here and there to all that has come before it. The on-screen talent elevates the material, even when it is downright stupid. When you see people indulging in their sick fantasies it tends to feel more wacky as opposed to being scary. That’s not to say you won’t find a genuine shock or scare here, because there are certainly a few. Considering THE PURGE began as a wasted concept wrapped in a home invasion horror film, James DeMonaco has managed to create something with a little substance. Don’t be surprised if this third installment hits a sweet spot for audiences looking to get away from the real life election year we are currently facing. And frankly, watching Frank Grillo do a little damage is always worthwhile.

Source: JoBlo.com

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