When The Purge came out in 2013, I dismissed it as a ham-fisted parable of income inequality. The story of a future America where crime is legal for one night, and the rich use this fact to kill the poor for sport, it seemed almost too bludgeony. But The Purge: Anarchy was totally brilliant, and the third movie looks great too.
The premise of the Purge movies is, of course, completely absurd. That’s kind of the point. The notion that we “purge” our anger and hostility once a year by acting out all our negative impulses with no consequences is just a smokescreen—in fact, the annual “crime is legal” night is all about culling the population of poor people.
The first movie sort of dramatized this with a “most dangerous game” storyline involving a homeless man who gets trapped inside a rich family’s house. But The Purge took place entirely inside this suburban gated community, so the random slaughter of the poor felt somewhat remote. The Purge: Anarchy, meanwhile, took place right in the inner city, and introduced Frank “Crossbones” Grillo playing, essentially, the Punisher. And those two changes spelled total awesomeness.
The Purge: Election Year keeps Grillo’s character which is a very, very good decision. And this nakedly political series is now actually coming out during an election year in which it seems as though American politics has caught up to its premise. The Purge no longer feels as far-fetched or ludicrous as it did a few years ago. In this film, a young Senator (whose family were slaughtered in the Purge years ago) is determined to stop this vital American tradition, so she’s running for President. But first, she has to survive... the Purge. Blessed be America!