By Emanuel Ortiz
The Purge: Election Year simply isn’t a good film, but there’s fun to be had watching a group of indifferent protagonists kicking ass and wandering the streets on Purge night.
The Purge, when first introduced in 2013, had an incredibly fascinating and original premise. It has, however, staggered attempting to break the mold of a poorly received B-movie after the negative reviews of its first film. The first movie’s story was restricted by the simple fact that it occurred in one house when The Purge had an entire country it could use as its playground. The second film corrected this problem following the story of Frank Grillo’s character, Leo. Although the movie continues to follow his story, the movie stumbles at times due to its poor acting and writing.
There are some new elements added into the story that really helps build a world in which a purge could occur. In terms of social issues, The Purge has never really delved too deep to show how such an event could affect the lives of a neighborhood. They show more of that in this movie by talking about Purge “insurance” where your property is protected from damage resulting from The Purge. It also went deeper into showing that, for a lower class citizen barely making ends meet, it was unfair. The rich benefit from the event because of things like these insurances as well as being untargetable. Now, Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), who has firsthand experience with these horrific events, wants to shut The Purge down once elected President, and that is where Leo, as well as other characters, step in to keep her safe.
The introduction of these new characters felt fitting, having placed them in these lower income neighborhoods to really paint the party suffering from the events of The Purge. Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson), Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria), and Laney Rucker (Betty Gabriel) all joined Leo in his mission to keep the Senator safe so that she could put an end to the event once elected. These actors were serviceable in their roles, not distracting from the movie nor adding much in terms of acting to it. To be fair, though, this isn’t a movie in which anyone really stands out in. What’s most important is the fact that you care for these characters as the story progressed. They weren’t by any means memorable, but you cared for them. You see the hardships they go through and their frank humanity which almost EVERYONE else seemed to have lost after The Purge.
Why is it that everyone just goes completely insane? There is no reason. There are points where it’s understandable that characters might have changed after experiencing traumatic events which an event like The Purge can create, but besides the protagonists and the random cameo by The Crips, everyone is just insane. There is a girl towards the first half of the movie whose sole mission is to get a candy bar. What? She literally goes crazy because she wasn’t able to get a candy bar from a convenience store and on Purge night; she goes to said store with her crazy friends and proceeds to break in. It didn’t help that her acting was horrible on top of that. The only addition these characters brought to the movie was when they were killed off by Laney Rucker. Oh, was that scene marvelous.
You have to turn off your brain while watching this movie before you pick apart the stupid idea of capturing the Senator only to keep her alive, wait for over one hundred racist political figures to gather in a church, and then SLOWLY, kill her. Their plan should have been to execute her on the spot so she would be out of the presidential debate, but that would have been too easy.
Overall, there is some fun to be had watching this group of protagonists attempt to stay alive during The Purge, and the fast pacing of the movie never kept you wondering if it was close to the end. However, the plot, the tolerable to horrible acting, as well as the dialogue doesn’t help this movie break out into a solid horror action film.