The Purge: Election Year is a suitable conclusion to the franchise. There are some interesting ideas in the film, although these are overplayed at times.
Former police officer Leo Barnes is now head of security for Senator Charlie Roan. Roan is running for president on a ticket of eliminating the annual purge. Those in power are less keen to see her succeed…
The first Purge film was a home invasion horror. The political overtones were clear, but these became much more overt in sequel The Purge: Anarchy. The Purge: Election Year is much less a horror film, although violence is frequent. The film functions as an action thriller – a race against time to protect the senator. This third instalment positions political and social allegory at the centre. Where it’s predecessor highlighted the inequalities of its dystopian world, this film makes the case on a grander scale.
The construction of the film is to introduce new characters, and make the audience care about their survival. Writer-director James DeMonaco gives Roan a backstory by way of brief flashback at the beginning of the film. This is enough to offer reasons for the character’s drive, yet does not flesh out a character that audiences will really care about. Having fought his demons in the previous instalment, Barnes is solely a protector in The Purge: Election Year.
Elsewhere, Joe’s dialogue is amusing to begin with, but quickly turns embarrassing. The girls who enter his shop are hideously overplayed. This distracts from a later sequence that works rather well. There are a few good set pieces in the film; the action is certainly stronger than the dialogue. Frank Grillo is strongest in the physical sequences, whilst Elizabeth Mitchell looks suitably ernest. Mykelti Williamson must despair at some of his material.
The Purge: Election Year, like its predecessors, has great ideas and good action sequences. However, the parts remain better than the sum.