Okay, before we say anything else, does it strike anyone as odd that the Purge (in its purest, original, unique form) was originally a government backed entrepreneurial scheme to allow the public to decimate itself for one day a year? Now it seems that this message has been lost, and we’re only three movies in. Watch the first five minutes of Election Year, the third in this quirky but yet still fascinating franchise, and you begin to realise that this is no longer about the people helping themselves by chopping up their neighbours after some long held deep-seated dislike of their bigger garden or nicer car. This is now an opportunity for those in power to directly affect both the public’s future and their own, by politically targeting victims and using The Purge as an excuse. Do we care, however?
Even when the first of these somewhat novel projects came to the fore, it was already asking some very important and challenging philosophical and societal questions, layered, admittedly, under the veil of crisp and polished torture and suspense. This has now progessed beyond equals doing unto each other what they can’t do for every other night of the year into something that was already heavily hinted at previously, the more obvious manipulation of the law, with convenient free political side-stepping. And interestingly, we appear to have come full circle, with the film-makers themselves now asking the same questions about society as all of the people watching the first film at the time. A neat trick, if delivered well, and the debate that is played out at the start of the film is testament to the fact that whilst this knows what it is, it is not beyond understanding that there is more to this than just blood-letting and terror.
Starring Elizabeth Mitchell (V, Lost) as the Washington Senator (would be President-elect, hence the title) everybody wants to kill on this night of the long knives, this third incarnation of the same story re-told with different faces, is just as polished and occasionally just as tense as the previous two in the series and follows much the same premise. Midnight on Purge Day gongs and off we go, following the next twelve hours of the lives of the people we have already been introduced to in the first twenty or so minutes, when everything was still bonkers-free. Here, we have a slightly different twist, focusing on the survival of one for the benefit of many.
And along with the pretty, sometimes garish. sometimes imaginative visuals, the shoddy-ish script is also back for another twirl. The acting itself is on point for what this is at base level. Giving it any more credibility than that would be doing it (and you) a dis-service. Limited, yes, even sometimes offensive, but certainly not lacking for the audience it is trying to attract.
Certainly a decent enough addition to the series, though fails to break any real new ground, despite the promising first few minutes where it starts to question itself and the morality of the annual Purge in general.