In 2013, The Purge with Ethan Hawke and Lena Heady had the makings of a cult classic. It was stylish horror that exploited the fear and unhinged violence that can come out of the most suburban of people during anarchic mayhem. Based on its wild success, Universal decided to build a franchise around the premise with The Purge: Anarchy and now, just in time for the 4th of July holiday weekend, the decisively mediocre third installment, THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR.
The story takes place during — you guessed it — an election year. Captain America: Civil War actor Frank Grillo returns as Leo, the gruff and no-nonsense head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell). After seeing her family killed in front of her during a purge 18 years ago, the Senator, now running for President, is out to put an end to the Purge forever. Naturally, the opposing group who wants to keep the Purge going is out to get her. On the night of the yearly Purge, she is locked down in her house only to have an assassination attempt take place. Leo and her escape from the madness and have to walk through the violence of the Purge in order to find safety.
We tend to calibrate our expectations for specific movies. A movie like The Revenant has a different set of standards than something like From Justin To Kelly, obviously. With Election Year, the dial is set to medium-low to low because it’s the 21st century version of a B-movie: a thin storyline smothered in flash and gore that is guaranteed to entertain and shock. It does all the above, but lacks the thrilling fun of the original and is disposable and forgettable like the sequel before it.
Election Year is basically one story: rich white people vs. everyone else, illustrated by a group of waspy, cultish politicians hellbent on keeping the Purge and local deli owner Joe (Mykelti Williamson), his immigrant pal/co-worker Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) and former bad-ass gangbanger Laney (Betty Gabriel) who are just trying to survive. The bridge between the two groups are the Senator (who is incessantly thanking the people of color for saving her life) and good ol’ one-dimensional Leo whose sole job is to shoot a gun and look like a frustrated man who wasted his time at the DMV. It’s pretty clear that this movie is telling us that there is a division of class in this country and horrible people want to keep it that way. In fact, it is spoon-fed to us which, at times, makes it a little condescending and obnoxious. For Christ sake, it’s a Purge movie. The audience doesn’t need any of that. Just show brains being blown out and people acting a fool and we’ll be fine.
Like every other Purge movie, there’s an adequate amount of bloody shoot-outs and ridiculous too-good-to-be-true crazy moments (like a functioning guillotine in a back-alley). I would be lying if I said there weren’t some moments of delightful satisfaction from this movie — particularly one scene involving a bratty school girl who is determined to take candy from Joe’s deli and another with the leader of the horrible crazy white people Minister Edwidge Owens (Kyle Secor) getting what’s coming to him. Other than that, this movie just jumps around spastically and rushes to the end leaving a trail of blood and a high body count that leaves the audience barely entertained. The franchise continues to try to up its game from the original and fails every time. It’s just another Purge sequel to add to throw into the pile — and it probably won’t be the last, unfortunately.
Score: 2 out of 5
Dino-Ray Ramos watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer