The Purge: Election Year is the next film in this franchise and although most think it is a trilogy, there is a huge hint at the end of this film that there might be another one on the way. Lucky us….not. This time around being an election year, Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is running for the White House on a campaign of ending The Purge. Of course, the powers that be are against it and on purge night they send a squad of skinhead, Nazi commandos led by Earl Danzinger (Terry Serpico) to her home in the hopes of ending her candidacy and her life. The conspiracy runs deep and soon it is just the Senator and her number one Secret Service protector Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo reprising his role from The Purge: Anarchy) to survive. On the street trying to stay alive, they meet up with deli store owner Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson), his employee, friend and huge Roan supporter Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) and Laney Rucker (Betty Gabriel).
There are a few other players here but I will spare you the details because at the end of the day, they don’t matter. Nothing matters in The Purge: Election Year. There is not much commentary on the issues it introduces so the film is devoid of much meaning. It tries to deal with gun control, religion and its intersection into politics, the NRA, racism, class envy and the likes. The problem is it never makes a coherent statement about any of the hot button issues it touches on. They are merely plot gimmicks that set up an endless array of shootouts, knifings and car accidents. This is where The Purge: Election Year works. But the acting is hilariously atrocious with the exception of Frank Grillo who single handedly carries this film. He is a fine actor and always seems to be much better than the material he is given in films like these. I would love to see this guy get his own superhero film where he is the hero. Grillo, with his rough and tumble good looks, steely gaze and charisma, could easily carry his own film. This is not that film. He does what he can and does it well as he did in The Purge: Anarchy (which is the best film of this series, so far).
The Purge: Election Year has so many holes, the friend I went to see this film with were going over each point after the film was over. For those who are hell bent on seeing this film, I will not divulge any spoilers. Suffice to say, they will leave you scratching your head and wondering how they were able to make it into the film. They really hurt what little logic is there. James DeMonaco, who is writer and director of all three films of this franchise, once again misses the point with his script which is bogged down with racial stereotypes, but also does have a couple of good one liners, although there is nothing breaking any new ground here. DeMonaco’s ability to direct the action is competent enough and Nathan Whitehead’s score keeps the film interesting to a point.
The Purge: Election Year is not altogether awful. Like I said, it has some funny one liners, elicits some nervous chuckles from the audience (intentional or not is anyone’s guess), has a strong performance from Frank Grillo and a decent score punctuating the action. It is one of those films that fits the so-bad-it’s-good category. It is a film you could watch with a group of people in your own home, make fun of it the whole time and make an evening out of it. But this is not a good film, overall. You could watch this on a Saturday night on DVD and have a ball. But at the end of the day, this is another missed opportunity. The Purge: Election Year’s premise is that one of the lead characters wants to end The Purge. Let’s hope she succeeds.
The Purge: Election Year – ** out of 5
The Purge: Election Year – Rated R for strong, graphic violence, gore, harsh language and brief nudity
The Purge: Election Year – Run Time is 105 minutes
The Purge: Election Year is currently in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.