The Purge: Election Year (15)

Synopsis:

Eighteen years after her family were brutally murdered on Purge Night Senator Charlie Roan is campaigning to become President with the promise to abolish The Purge. When the annual Purge commences the New Founding Fathers (the creators of The Purge) decide to focus their attacks on Senator Roan.

Review:

The Purge was a tense, psychological home invasion thriller with a great premise that I really enjoyed and was totally captivated by. The Purge: Anarchy moved the action out of one home and placed the characters out in the open to be hunted, it was a very tense watch, which surprisingly had a very political sub-plot develop during the latter half of the film. Now the final instalment The Purge: Election Year hits the silver screen promising to be the most political one yet with its tagline: “Keep America Great”. It doesn’t take long to work out which Presidential Candidate inspired that gem. The thing about The Purge: Election Year is that the most intelligent work has been done by the marketing team rather than the writers or director.

The Purge: Anarchy did a great job with its political message as it kept it fairly low-key and the slightly predictable “rich people hate poor people, surely not!” revelation is left until the last thirty or forty minutes of the movie. It works as a gore-fest, a tense thriller, and a political parable. The Purge: Election Year in almost direct contrast is a bit of a mess, each element of the film works well if viewed in isolation, but the way in which they are brought together is very heavy-handed.

For a film that sets out to be a political satire, it’s almost as if the director wants to focus the camera on anything and everything non-political whenever he gets the chance. There’s heaps of blood and gore and horrific violence. There is a sequence in which a load of women dressed in torn lingerie dance around waving guns in the air and shouting profanities before being murdered. It’s a sequence that didn’t really need to exist as it didn’t affect the plot one jot and they could have used the wasted time to provide interesting social commentary. Alas, they do not.

The people behind this film also seem to think that giving the “bad guys” specific costumes is a good way to deliver biting political satire, but it isn’t. In the first film the people were wearing weird masks to scare their victims in order to derive sadistic pleasure, in the second film not all the characters were wearing costumes because they’re more interesting in killing than putting on a show. In Election Year (as can be seen on the poster) certain characters dress up to look like George Washington or The Statue of Liberty or Abe Lincoln as if that somehow has a deeper meaning, but it doesn’t. In the second film one of the characters has the word “Jesus” written on his forehead. Now, I’m no theologian, but I can be certain that The Purge: Anarchy had a lot of themes at play but the Second Coming of Christ wasn’t one of them.

Verdict:

Fails to be as tense as the first one and fails to have the political subtlety of the second one. It had two things to do and did neither very well. It had the opportunity to make a generic survival horror movie into a gripping social commentary and satirise modern-day U.S politics and it pretty much blew it. For those of you who want a tense thriller with heaps of violence and a plot that does nothing to tax the brain then The Purge: Election Year does the job.

Stars: 2/5

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