Back in 2013, Hollywood was introduced to a unique premise for a horror/thriller. 'The Purge' was a chance for people to be able to break the law for 12 hours with no consequence. One year later, it gained a sequel after making a huge profit at the box office, showing interest in the franchise. Unfortunately, I feel it's safe to say that the movies haven't quite hit the mark just yet with the first two not fully delivering. 'Election Year' looks to get the franchise back on track as another spell of the annual purge begins.
I'm not a fan of the first two movies in this franchise. The premise is fantastic but the first two films have really failed to capitalise on it with terrible characters and making the premise obsolete. With the previous instalments not delivering, I went into this expecting it to be much of the same. Bizarrely, 'Election Year' for me is by far the best and most enjoyable of the franchise.
'Election Year' doesn't take itself too serious throughout most of the movie. The premise is supposed to induce chaos and that exactly is what happens in this film. As the purge begins, the nation transforms into a cauldron of madness as the lunatics roam the streets to capitalise on the freedom they have been granted. The movie finally capatalises on this and goes all out as we truly see how insane the people who participate in the purge are. With giant guillotine's in alleyways and huge swinging blades in the streets as well as the abundance of idiotic people dressing up in anything that will light up. It doesn't take itself too serious which allows you to really just have fun with the movie which is exactly what should happen with these movies as it has been missing so far in the series.
Senator Roan and her head of security Leo Barnes are forced to leave their home for good reason after being betrayed. There is actually a good reason to why they have had to go outside which I feel has been a problem throughout the purge movies. Characters do incredibly stupid things close to the deadline or throughout the night which lead to them making decisions that may harm them. It was refreshing to see something that made sense in one of these movies. It seems as if director and writer James DeMonaco listened to criticisms of the past films and has amended them in this film which is very pleasing to see.
In saying that, there are a lot of things that happen that are very convenient. Whenever the main protagonists seem to be in trouble, they just happen to be next to and are saved by purgers with 'good intentions'. Whoever is trying to cleanse themselves waste far too much time, giving new characters the opportunity to swoop and save the senator. This happens a lot in the movie and it leads the story to become quite predictable.
Frank Grillo was one of the highlights in 'Purge: Anarchy' and he continues that as being the best character in this movie. Grillo is great as Leo Barnes and is a believable badass as he looks to protect the senator. Barnes takes no nonsense from anyone and is right to not fully trust anyone in the situation that he is in. Elizabeth Mitchell plays Senator Roan and also does very well. She comes off as an ideal candidate showing compassion and is reasonable with the points that she is trying to get across. You root for her and as she isn't a terrible character or human being, you want her to stay alive. She constantly looks for the peaceful way to handle things but also is forced to help out which is understandable.
At the start, we see Roan's opposition plan to take her down and to do so, they bring in a special ops team. The design for how this team looks must have been decided by how threatening they could make the uniform look without having them actually do anything. The uniforms are covered in swastikas and confederate flags and it doesn't stop there. The leader is a skinhead covered in tattoos leading us to believe he is tough or just an idiot. Unfortunately, all the effort into them went into the look and we never really see anything from the special ops team that makes them feared or that you know that they are tough opposition. This leads to there not really being a strong villain in the film as you don't see the senators competition again until near the end of the film. The most deadly and threatening was actually the sadistic priest who was hardly in the film as well.
I really like the fact that the movie looked at the purge as something of an attraction. We got to see that people were coming from all over the world to participate in the purge which was interesting and actually seems realistic. However, the film doesn't use this to its full potential and it becomes a small part of the film which could have been cut. That would have been a good opportunity to create better threats to our protagonists but they failed to do so.
Overall, 'The Purge: Election Year' is the best in the franchise so far. Better but still not great unfortunately as there are still some problems within it. 'Election Year' is more fun than the others with some decent action. Frank Grillo shines with Elizabeth Mitchell also doing well. If you want an insane, easy to watch film then 'Election Year' is the film for you.
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