Three years ago, The 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 a much-improved idea. 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
Hillary Clinton Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell). Charlie is running against a psychotic Trump Supporting Nazi 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 revert back to mistakes of the first film.
If you are a right-winger, 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 racist extremists that Hollywood Elites think you are. When the white Christian antagonist teams up with the sexist 1% Illuminati of Washington to kidnap the female senator, take her to a church to murder her in the name of God, and then hires Neo-Nazi hitmen to do the job, the only way the filmmakers could be less subtle is if Donald Trump himself showed up and told everyone to kill all the brown people 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. People want to see a group of good guys wander into the free world and try to survive a city full of murderous psychopaths.
The dialogue here is terrible as literally, every character is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. 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 films. 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 *shakes fist* screws Joe 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 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, Election Year feels largely tensionless. There isn’t 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 die.
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 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. However, the fact that a soulless action film tries to make a political statement 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.