Movie Review – The Purge: Election Year (2016)

Gratuitous blood, guts, violence and mayhem.

And for one night a year, it’s totally legal.

BQB here with a review of The Purge: Election Year.

SPOILERS abound.

So if you’ve never seen any of the Purge movies, here’s the set-up. It takes place in the not so distant future, at a time when society, so sick and tired of daily, non-stop crime, has instituted one night a year called, “the Purge.”

For 12 hours, all crime is legal, including murder. Police, fire and emergency services are suspended. Do whatever you want. And at least according to the film, the ability for everyone to get out all their violence and rage in one night makes the country run smoothly the rest of the year.

At a first glance, the premise sounds dumb. They like to go over the top with violence. They put people in wacky costumes and masks to the point where they’ve created a new kind of monster (forget zombies, watch out for purgers!)

But, when you start thinking about it, the premise of these films is actually scary.

We all like to hold ourselves out as great, wonderful, decent people but I doubt few of us spend much time thinking about what monsters we’d become if the threat of jail time wasn’t dangling over our heads.

No one wants to admit it but everyone has bad thoughts from time to time. Those thoughts don’t become actions because no one wants to be outfitted with an orange jumpsuit and live in a cage forever.

But if there was one night where you could act on all your evil thoughts?

Yup. Total chaos. We all aren’t as good as you’d think.

In past Purge films we’ve seen people kill their cheating spouses, attack their neighbors over spite, seek revenge on those who did them wrong, and even worse, just kill for sport.

When that eerie siren sounds, you the viewer realize just how scary a world without laws would be, as you start to put yourself into the shoes of the characters and realize that no one’s safe, no one can be trusted, that the rule of law is really all that is keeping people we think we know from doing terrible things to us.

There’s a twist in this year’s Purge film. Senator Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is running for president on a platform of banning the purge once and for all.  The New Founding Fathers, the party that started the purge, won’t stand for that, so they get rid of a rule from previous purges – politicians and other important government officials, once protected during the purge, are now fair game, thus making it legal for the NFF to launch an attack on the Senator.

So it is up to Secret Service Agent Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) to save the day. Along the way, he’s helped by shopkeepers Joe and Marcos (Mykelti Williamson and Joseph Julian Soria) and Laney (Betty Gabriel) who protests the purge by running an ambulance of her own.

In my opinion, the first film in the series was good and the next two have gone increasingly over the rails. I think in a world of reboots and sequels, the people behind these movies came up with something original and frightening – i.e. that person you see everyday at work, in your neighborhood, etc. may seem nice but given the chance to do it legally, might just try to hack you to pieces for some perceived slight (you forgot to say hello to him, didn’t hold the door open or whatever).

It looks like they’re trying to build up this purge world with purge folklore and people fighting to keep the purge and people fighting to stop the purge but amidst it all, the producers shouldn’t lose sight of how watching this movie can make you appreciate that the law is all that keeps humans from acting out on their base animal instincts.

STATUS: Not shelf-worthy. Don’t rush out to see it. Worth a rental.

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review – The Purge: Election Year (2016)

  1. I got the first purge from netflix and it sat on my dvd player for like 6 months before I returned it unwatched. shrug. I just couldn’t get up for it.

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