WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
A yearly government sanctioned murder fest that somehow solved the problems of unemployment, crime, and the economy all at once…so yeah the premise of this series is pants on retarded. Three years ago the first Purge debuted to pretty poor reviews. Mostly due to the poorly explained premise being played straight in a bottle film and the only glowing recommendation was Adelaide Kane in a skirt. A year later, the direction of the franchise changed with The Purge: Anarchy. They took their crazy idea out in the open world and showed you what really happens during the 12 hours of murder and dancing in the streets. Add in the ass kicking charisma of Frank Grillo playing The Punisher without the Marvel copyrights and you had one of the biggest surprise hits of the year. Two years later you have the follow-up and third movie in this trilogy The Purge: Election Year.
Election Year takes place two years after the events of Purge: Anarchy. Frank Grillo returns as Frank Castle and he is now working secret service detail for presidential candidate Charlie Roan played by Elizabeth Mitchell. Charlie is running against a psychotic right-wing pastor and another woman who is only seen in one shot and is never mentioned ever again. Charlie’s family was murdered in the Purge and she now dedicates her life to politics in hopes of finally ending the deadly tradition. This is where we stop making sense and reverts back to mistakes of the first film. First, It was explained in Anarchy that this was the ‘6th annual’ Purge event. However, the story here stated that Charlie survived the Purge 15 years earlier. It was also mentioned that the Purge had been going on for over 20 years but the ‘New Founding Fathers of America’ aka the villains of this story were only elected 18 years prior meaning the Purge started before their arrival even though only 8 Purges have happened to this point. Well if the screenwriters don’t give a damn about its own timeline, I’m sure as hell not going to try.
If you are a right-wing supporter, a white guy over the age of 40, or someone who identifies themselves as Christian you may have an issue with this film as it goes out of its way to paint you as the psychotic racists extremists the political opposition thinks you are. Perhaps I’m overselling it. However when the right wing Christian antagonist teams up with the sexist 1% Illuminati of Washington to kidnap the female senator so they can bring her to a church and murder her in the name of God and then proceeds to hire Neo-Nazi hitmen to do the job, the only way to be less subtle is if Donald Trump himself showed up and told everyone to kill all the brown people you can see to make America great again. They spend so much time working a classist political agenda that it completely loses the point of what made people like the last film, to begin with. We know this is a ridiculous premise that would never work under any circumstances but people want to see a group of good guys wander into the free world and try to survive a city full of murderous psychopaths while delivering a hot slice of comeuppance.
Another problem is the dialogue because literally, every character is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon character. The subplot of the movie involves a deli store owner named Joe. Joe is basically Danny Glover in every movie he’s made since Lethal Weapon 2, an old black man who is way too old for this shit and speaks in lines straight out of a 70s blaxploitation film. His partner is a Mexican immigrant named Macros whose sole role is to tell you that Mexico is basically the Purge 24/7. After the insurance company effectively fucks Joe’s couch the day before the Purge, they attempt to defend their store from a bunch of teenage girls who murder people for 75 cent chocolate while listening to the painful tunes of Miley Cyrus. I’ll give the actors some credit because they know that they will never act in another film again being as bad as they are so at least they are making the most out of their last performance in Hollywood.
For a movie where our heroes spend a good chunk of it fleeing the city while a pack of Neo-Nazis uses their 11 kill streak to rain down a fire of death upon them, Election Year feels largely tensionless. There isn’t really a situation you feel like the main characters can’t plot shield their way out of. While the rules say that literally everyone is fair game to be killed during the purge including government officials, nobody important bites the dust outside of the one guy everyone praises as a father figure so you know he’s going to get rekt an hour before its happens and when it does you feel no emotion about because you have been waiting for it the last 45 minutes.
If you are looking for violence with a fury of chainsaws, Election Year doesn’t disappoint. Frank Grillo who was the shining star of the last film is pretty limited in his ass kicking abilities but is still serviceable in his role. The cinematography is just as good as its processors and it is very interesting to watch them come up with new ways to make killers look like walking Picassos. There is an enough B-movie fun to prevent it from being a total failure. But the fact that a soulless action film tries to make a political statement by playing the rich vs the poor not only hurts the sense of realism but takes away from the action that many were expecting. The Purge: Election Year closes the door on what could have been a decent trilogy; instead it becomes a series of clunkers with a gem squeezed in the middle.
Official Rating: **
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