“The Purge: Election Year” is the third installment of the Purge series and is again written and directed by James DeMonaco. Frank Grillo also reprises his role from the second film, this time as the head of security for a presidential candidate (Elizabeth Mitchell) who wants to get rid of the Purge, the annual night where every crime is legal.
The original Purge film was pretty boring, and disappointed many people because it promised a crazy “everything goes” night of violence but turned out to just be a standard home invasion “thriller” (term used very lightly). The second film, “Anarchy,” was a relatively solid action flick and showcased the chaos that viewers wanted to see in the world of the Purge. “Election Year” takes the good from “Anarchy” but the bad from the first film, and the end product is a mundane, cliché action film that tries and mostly fails to be anything more than that.
First things first, Frank Grillo is the best part of the film; I’ve liked him for a few years now, since he was in supporting roles in the likes of “Warrior” and “The Grey.” He was great in “Anarchy” and again carries the load here as the leader of the group with a pistol always drawn. Grillo has a calm demeanor about him, and he is as cool as he is intense.
The rest of the cast, however, is an entirely different story. Pretty much every single other actor in here gives a performance ranging from fine to awful, and there is some overacting that is just plain cringe-inducing. Characters widen their eyes and tilt their heads, which is one thing about the Purge series that I have always hated and never understood. Just because crime is legal for one night a year, suddenly every human being, even when it isn’t Purge night, acts and talks like they just escaped the looney bin. It takes you out of the movie and also knocks any serious undertones the film is trying to convey.
Which brings me to my next point: I am all for a film trying to be more than a by-the-numbers action/horror flick. But “Election Year” doesn’t seem to have any true messages or social commentaries on its mind; it just throws some ideas at the wall and hopes one sticks.
I’m not trying to get political, I myself try to stay out of politics and hate the two party system, but it should be noted this film almost goes out of its way to paint Conservatives as insane religious, Neo-Nazi fanatics who hate the poor and love the NRA, while the other side (led by a female Senator, I won’t name names who its likely an analogy for) have Americans’ best interests at hearts. I’m not knocking the film for choosing sides, just how out of the way they went to do so, and some viewers may be turned off altogether by it.
Unlike “Anarchy,” “Election Year” isn’t an action movie. It has three big shootouts, each of which is well-staged and entertaining, but they’re so far, few and in between that it is more of a shake awake than a well-earned treat.
“The Purge: Election Year” is better than the original and Frank Grillo is fun towatch, but the dull narrative and lack of any intelligence to back up its desire to be political satire sink it to the level of almost unrecommendable. I went into this with relative high hopes but walked out disappointed, and if this is the direction the series is headed in, perhaps it is time to purge the franchise.
Critics Rating: 4/10