First off I was not a huge fan of the first Purge Film. It was an ok movie, but it was not what I had expected or wanted to see out of it. What I wanted was what we got with The Purge: Anarchy. An all-out life or death brawl to survive the night and the world they have created. Recently I re-watched the first film, and I actually liked it a lot more now that I have seen where it goes with Anarchy. And Anarchy was an awesome film like I said. It was the Punisher film we have always wanted. And all though Jon Bernthal is a great punisher, I really would have loved to see Grillo dawn the skull. But that’s not what we are here to talk about; we are talking about The Purge: Election Year.
Our 3rd installment to this world brings back Grillo as Leo Barnes, our hesitant hero from Anarchy. Also making returning is Bishop, now leading Carmelo’s Purge Rebellion. We also add Elizabeth Mitchell as Charlie Roan as a presidential hopeful out to shut down The Purge. Mykelti Williamson, Betty Gabriel, Kyle Secor, Joseph Julian Soria, and Liza-Colon-Zayas have also joined the franchise. James DeManaco returns for a third time as the writer and director. Now I have got to say, this one was pretty good. Not great. But pretty good.
So we are now two years removed from Sgt. Leo Barnes (Grillo) making the decision to spare the life of the man who killed his son, and he is working as the head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Mitchell). Roan is out to shut down the Purge after being made to watch her entire family get murdered Purge night on 18 years before. While the New Founding Fathers see her as a threat they decide they have to do something about it. As Barnes attempts to make keep her safe through the night, they run across some ally’s out to protect their store from looters, as well as the Anti Purge Movement. However Roan is hesitant to trust The Anti Purge movement as she sees them as being just as violent as the NFFA.
There are a lot of positives to The Purge: Election Year. Like its predecessor Anarchy it focuses more on being an action thriller, rather than a horror film like the first installment. This is where this franchise shines. A few good jump scares, and some well shot action. The action is intense, and shot beautifully, no shaky camera. DeManaco knows how to film action, especially in this world that he has created.
Frank Grillo is also a shining star in the film. I have been a huge fan of his since Warrior. He is great in the Marvel films as Crossbones, his own show Kingdom, and he is great in this franchise. He brings realism to the character, a grit that you believe and he makes it easy to become lost in this world through his character. Edwin Hodge gets a bigger role in this film, and it is well deserved. He is a fun character and I have liked seeing his progression.
The film also has a lot of laughs to it that counter act the thrills and action very well. Most of the comedic elements come from Mykelti Williamson. He has great comedic timing in Election Year, and his one liners hit pretty well. His storyline mixes well with the main line throughout the film.
But there are some glaring weaknesses in the film. It feels like they wanted to go a little overboard with story. It is something a lot of horror franchises do when it comes to their third installments. Crazy back stories, or new threats or powers that our antagonist has. Scream 3 mocked the third installments of franchise saying there were insane unnecessary backstories. And I believe Election Year does this. The first act takes way too long to get moving. We get too many scenes that are supposed to be character building moments that just fall flat. Most glaringly an entire presidential debate scene that flat out did not need to be in the film.
Another weakness in the film is that we are going to this film to see the insane kills, or Purges. Like the Saw franchise we wanted the traps to escalate, we want bigger cooler this go around. And we do not really get them. We kind of see them in the background, and are teased a few times, but they never really give you what you want.
Other than your main leads most the rest of the cast is atrocious. The villains are all clichéd. This isn’t always a bad thing, but in this case stuck out a little much. You have your over the top politician villain, your sleazy opposite of your hero and their insanely over done henchman. It was all just a little too cliché. Story has glaring weakness and terrible dialog that even Frank Grillo and Elizabeth Mitchell who are good can not keep a float. As well I would have really liked to see Mitchell’s character get a little more into the action. I get that she wasn’t a soldier or a fighter, but in these films you want to see you heroine step up and be awesome.
The Purge: Election Year is a good continuation to a decent franchise. It may not be your favorite film of the year but you can go to it and have a good time at the theater. Just don’t expect the next great Action-Thriller. Over all it’s a fun film. It has the thrills, the scares, the action, and laughs that you want out of this franchise. It blends the genre very well. Where it comes up short is its story, and first acts. But not so much that you can’t get over it. I would have liked to see more Purging in the streets, but what we got was interesting and leaves you wanting to see more. Which in a franchise is basically what you want. It is not the best film of the year, nor will it win any Oscars. But there is fun to be had in The Purge: Election year. I gave it a score of 2.7 with no Jeebus bonus so that leaves us with a final Jeebus score of 2.7. But what say you Jackass Nation? Are you excited for The Purge: Election Year? What has been your favorite of the franchise thus far? Sound off in the comments below, and remember, it is, what it is.
The Jeebus Score explained
The Jeebus score is out of a possible 5 points with a .5 bonus. Films are giving a max of 1 point each for Entertainment Value, Story/Writing, Performance, Direction, and Production. There is also a possible bonus up to .5. Any film between 2.5 and 4 is considered a good film. 4-5 is a great film. Anything over 5 is an incredibly amazing film. To get a perfect score of 5.5 a film will pretty much have to be The Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather.