Purge and purify!
To purge, or not to purge, that is the question 2013’s THE PURGE cynically asked. In the minds of many, the visceral act of the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) set upon citizens of this great nation sparked the balance between sanity and insanity. All in the name of fixing modern America’s glitches, crossing chaotic T’s and dotting death-defying I’s seems to be the answer for stability as law-abiding citizens stand up for their right to fight. Whether revenge, or simply for fun, “Halloween for adults” is your right, folks! (Well, only in the movie.)
In the third installment of this freaky franchise, ELECTION YEAR seems to run on a disjointed, political track that’s not only divided America (sound familiar?), but has also garnered so much fame across the world, “Murder Tourism” has become a new attraction as foreigners travel to grant themselves part of that great American experience.
As this horrid, legal act runs a mainstream gauntlet of criticism, years after choosing not to kill the man who killed his son, former police sergeant Barnes (Frank Grillo) has become head of security for Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), the front runner in the next Presidential election due to her vow to eliminate the nation’s annual Purge. As a surviving victim and popularity rising more than Chicago’s sad, real-life “purge,” it comes to no surprise she’s rattled a cage with the NFFA.
And so begins a menacing cat-and-mouse chase that runs on very little dialog, lots of violence, and abrupt alliances (Mykelti Williamson) that keeps this color-by-number thriller afloat. As bad as these flicks are, they’re good. I must admit I’m a sucker for carnage (film-wise of course) and this franchise has gradually provided more and more of it as it continues to tap into human psyche if allowed to play God. Living up to its title, ELECTION YEAR struggles to “bridge-the-gap” between those who seek to keep the holiday, while others oppose due to disproportionate results that mainly effect the less fortunate. (A drum writer/director James DeMonaco has beaten before with prior PURGE films.) Its predictable plot doesn’t really provide anything new within the franchise’s premise, but it does provide a new set of entertaining and enjoyable faces, while allowing Grillo to continue to blossom as a hero. (The guy’s got potential) Sprinkled with some dark humor, the appeal of what THE PURGE stands for maintains its cynical strength. Fans of the franchise will enjoy this as it runs parallel with a current presidential race that can easily live up to ELECTION YEAR if granted the opportunity.
Overall, the flick doesn’t steer away from what it’s aiming to do, and for that reason (ONLY) is why this has become a popular title despite critical divide. The fact is these movies aren’t made for critics, they’re made for moviegoers who enjoy a good thrill. Even if it means unleashing gun fire from all angles during a mass, or stating a Presidential election has happened during the month of May. (Really?)
Grade: C+ / Genre: Horror, Thriller, Crime, Politics / Rated: R / Run Time: 1:45
Starring: Elizabeth Mitchell, Frank Grillo, Mykelti Williamson
Directed by: James DeMonaco