This installment of The Purge finds Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) the head of security for presidential candidate Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell). With the election only months away, Mitchell finds herself the target of an assassination attempt by political adversaries because she not only is the front-runner in the election, but she wants to eliminate the Purge once she takes office.
The Plot Thickens
The Purge series is based on one of those rare premises that get better with time. I remember when the first film came out, I was so intrigued by the notion of sanctioned anarchy. Even at the time, I thought that it wasn’t merely a cool idea…it was a cool idea with legs.
And even though I found the first picture in the trilogy disappointing, the premise itself still had value.
When The Purge: Anarchy came out in 2014, writer/director James Demonaco wisely expanded the universe. He moved the action from a locked house to the city as a whole. The exponentially increased the opportunity for onscreen mayhem.
He also explored the ramifications of the Purge. I was intrigued by the subplot of the older man who sold himself to a wealthy family could, safely and morbidly, act out their fantasies at his expense. The money from the sale went to his daughter and granddaughter. The only thing he felt that he had left to give to his own family was himself. That’s a heady notion for a horror film.
The Purge: Election Year takes it even further. The idea of the financial gain is once again revisited but the scope is blown up even wider. It is pointed out that the yearly Purge saves the government money. The mass deaths of the poor each year saves the government millions in welfare, Social Security, and Medicare payouts. The Purge is a budgetary tool.
Mykelti Williamson plays “Joe Dixon,” a small business owner who just days before the annual Purge is priced out of insurance by his insurance provider. Left with no choice but to protect his business from the assured destruction to take place, Joe arms himself and, with the assistance of his clerk “Marcos” (Joseph Julian Sorea), sets up shop on the roof of the building where they will keep guard for the full 12 hours of the Purge. Before long, however, the two take to the streets where they join forces with others.
Williamson is so great in this film. When the plot gets the darkest, Dixon chimes in with a well-delivered line to cut the tension. At the screening I attended, he scored some huge laughs.
Curious about his history in the business, I did some research. It turns out that Mr. Williamson is an experienced actor who has been in dozens of television shows and movies. To date, his most recognized role would have to be that of “Private Benjamin Buford ‘Bubba’ Blue” in Forrest Gump. I guess that explains his comedic chops, huh?
“Paging Ms. Quinn”
One subplot involved two teenage girls shoplifting at Joe Dixon’s deli. He has a confrontation with “Kimmy” (Brittany Mirabile), booting them from the shop.
Later, with the Purge in full swing, the girls show back up for revenge dressed in full costume. Kimmy has transformed herself into “Freakbride.” They arrive in a sedan covered completely in lights and brandishing weapons.
Between the look of the Freakbride character and dialogue, I immediately note the similarities to the “Harley Quinn” character in the upcoming Suicide Squad film. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between the two sexy/crazy/violent characters. I can’t imagine that the similarities were an accident.
The Purge: Election Year is a satisfying film. DeMonaco strikes a solid balance of violence, tension, and humor. At an 1 hr. 45 mins., the picture flies by.
I enjoyed the manner that the universe within the film was expanded this time out.
I can’t imagine that this will be the last film in the series.
-Zep the Bear