The Purge: Election Year strikes the franchise out



By Steve Newton

Sorry James DeMonaco, writer-director of the Purge movies: that’s three strikes now. You’re out!

In 2013 DeMonaco kickstarted the franchise–based on the shaky premise that one day each year all crime in the U.S.A. is legal–with the home-invasion horrors of The Purge. The next year he ramped up the carnage and took it to the mean streets of L.A. with The Purge: Anarchy. This time around he’s stayed outdoors but moved to the root of all evil–Washington, D.C.–with impeccable timing in light of the uncanny gong show that is American politics right now.

Elizabeth Mitchell stars as liberal senator Charlie Roan, running for president on a platform to abolish the Purge–mainly because her entire family got wiped out in one. To deal with that threat the governing elite, the New Founding Fathers of America, change the rules of the Purge, making elected officials no longer immune. They put a hit out on Roan, but they’ll have to get past dedicated head of security Leo Barnes (returning Anarchy hero Frank Grillo) first.

The rest of the film is the same orgy of ultraviolence we got totally sick of in the first two. DeMonaco revels in the lowest-common-denominator approach, making Roan’s would-be assassins neo-Nazis festooned with swastikas and Confederate-flag patches. When it comes to visual setpieces, the best he can do is offer blood-spattered, scantily clad bitch-skank schoolgirls gyrating in slow-mo on dark streets clutching AK-47s.

A couple of times.

As with the previous Purges, the film becomes an endurance test to see how much ear-shattering, brain-blasting gun death a viewer can take. The tattered shreds of sociopolitical commentary left by the fusillade are hardly worth the mass casualties depicted onscreen–not to mention the agony of the moviegoer.

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