It has been two years since Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) stopped himself from a regrettable act of revenge on Purge Night - the 12 hours of lawlessness. This year, the annual ritual comes at the eve of a heated presidential election with the nation deeply divided between those who are pro - and anti-Purge. As head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), Leo's mission is to protect her during her controversial and contested run for president. But when a betrayal forces them onto the streets of Washington, D.C. on the one night when no help is available, they must stay alive or both be sacrificed for their sins against the state.
For a third sequel, The Purge: Election Year bodes surprisingly well and blows similar action pieces out of the water any day of the year, despite the obvious analogies that it’s desperately trying to draw. During which, it masquerades as political satire, when instead it’s just a reminder of the wickedness in man and has little to do with internal politics, especially those within the United States of America.
For a subversive take on racial segregation and the recent movements that sprung up in the states (Black Lives Matter), The Purge: Election Year is actually quite decent a piece of cinema, if you dare to call it that way. With bleak, washed out tones, optimistic characters in a sea of nihilism and some loose cannons in the form of spoiled teenagers, James DeMonaco’s love child, intentional or not, goes deep into exploring what urges drive people forward in life – and it becomes clear that that primal urge is aggression.
Mostly aimed toward others: ‘inferiors’ if you will.
Laws passed or not, banned legislation or anything of the sorts is just a mimicry to keep fueling Homo sapiens’ primordial desire to kill and secure their own well-being. One kill for fun, other in self-defense, however all are ready to pull the trigger anytime – especially when it’s allowed or even encouraged by the law.
In the movie, the only true beacon of light is Elizabeth Mitchell playing Senator Charlie Roan. She wants change, other don’t: conflict ensues. A local shop owner tries to hide his fear by cracking racial jokes at every turn, but deep down Joe (Mykelti Williamson) knows that we’re all doomed if we continue pursuing the path put forth by officials, and backed by the nation.
If you look even deeper, The Purge: Election Year doesn’t have clear antagonistic figures - only those whose moral values slightly differ from one another. After all, who but man himself is in charge for his of definition of morality to interpret it in any way he deems satisfactory?
Some have accused the film of glorifying violence, but is it really? As an annual event, The Purge doesn’t glorify, encourage or ignite violent events aimed toward its members of society. It’s the Humans who decide to unleash that primordial rage upon other citizens who just cannot defend themselves properly if their lives depended upon it.
Music is decent, acting as well, cinematography could be better in few places, action is gory and over-the-top and the story resolution is there if you just dig deeper enough to unravel the events that led up to it.
Overall, The Purge: Election Year is surprisingly smarter than its previous two predecessors and for that – kudos to director and writer James DeMonaco.