Saturday, 27 August 2016

Review: The Purge - Election Year

The Purge: Election Year
Cert: 15 / 109 mins / Dir. James DeMonaco / Trailer

Once again, the passage of time and semi-detached retrospect conspire to raise my eyebrow, as I re-read old reviews and marvel at how much I enjoyed the first Purge film and really didn't care for the second. And I'm only surprised because The Purge: Election Year is - against all expectations - quite a lot of fun.

The film takes place nineteen years into the annual Purge*1 where a progressive US senator, who wants to see the legalised crime-spree abandoned, is targeted by the powers who would rather it continue in perpetuity. Here be carnage…

Now, assuming you've watched the previous movies (and writer/director James DeMonaco is very much making that assumption), two things have changed this time around. Firstly, the screenplay doesn't actually bang on about the in-movie reason The Purge happens (Patriotic™, guilt-free, cathartic cleansing, etc). This is only the third entry in the series and already everyone concerned knows they're playing strictly to their established audience. Secondly, the screenplay doesn't spend time banging on about the perceived morality (or lack, thereof) of The Purge, which has been thusfar rendered even more patronising given how much the core-concept Just Wouldn't Work™*2. As a result, The Purge: Election Year quickly becomes a fairly effective survival-thriller, evoking The Walking Dead in its better moments, and a gleeful revenge b-movie in its lesser ones.

The overly smarmy conspiracy theory motif rears its head by the third act, of course, excitedly laying-in to conservative, capitalist conformity with all the gusto of a movie which isn't produced by one of the largest film studios in the world and hasn't charged you an exorbitant rate to sit and watch it ;) That said, it's part of an actual plot-point rather than the heavy-handed setup used on previous occasions, so it's forgivable. And sure, the film's climactic battle descends into ridiculous macho brawling, but the gunfire and melee are actually what the film does best, so again: no foul.

Best line: an ageing (ie Wise™) woman watches a TV report about young people visiting the US with the sole intention of taking part in The Purge. "Murder tourism… what's happened to our country, Joe?" she asks, apparently forgetting that The Purge (which has always been about All The Murders™, remember) is about to enter its nineteenth year. Like this is only a problem when All The Foreigners get involved...

All in all: far better than I expected it to be, largely because the series has stopped taking its own premise so seriously.

Anyway, if The Annual Purge takes place in March as noted on-screen, how come these movies are released in the Summer months (in the UK, at least)? What the hell kind of bullshit marketing is that?

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
It's a little bit Hostel, a little bit Walking Dead.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Only if you really can't wait the requisite three months for the DVD/BRD.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
This one actually does, yes.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Cast: hopefully not, although it's solid enough work.
Director: could well be, yes

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I will not.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There is not.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: That Frank Grillo's in this. And if you remember, he was in that Captain America: The Winter Soldier along with Sam 'Windu' Jackson.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 I think it's nineteen. The "fifteen years later" flashback in the trailer is replaced with an "Eighteen years later" card in the final movie, implying that The Purge has been taking place for nineteen years (providing this earlier scene occurred during the first Purge, which isn't explicitly stated to be honest). Either way, that's a metric shit-ton of The Murder™ on an annual basis. Who's doing all the paperwork? I mean, I'm not saying I'd be great at that job, although I am and I would. Just leave me a message in the Comments, we'll go from there…

*2 Short version: all crime in America is legal for 12 hours. As if all the crimes which could be committed within a 12-hour period could be just swept under the carpet the following morning. It's a Friday Afternoon concept if ever I've heard one...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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