Sunday, October 23, 2022

The Purge: Election Year

Movie Name:
The Purge: Election Year
Year of Release: 2022
Director: James DeMonaco
Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Ethan Phillips, Adam Cantor, Christopher James Baker, Jared Kemp, Raymond J. Barry, 
Genre: Action, Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon Prime

Synopsis and Review
James DeMonaco who has originated The Purge franchise, has continued to mine the series with additional titles, and this one in particular came out in 2016, coincidentally an election year as well. The film follows the story of Leo Barnes, now handling security for Senator Charlene Roan, who has actually survived a traumatic purge ritual, where most of her family got killed. Now in 2040, that senator is running for President on the premise of ending the purge for good. Her main opposing candidate, also aligned with the current administration, decide to revoke immunity on government officials during the Purge, so they can target her specifically (and eliminate the competition). At the same time this is occurring, deli owner Joe Dixon and his assistant Marcos are dealing with issues of their own, which they can overcome thanks to the presence of Medical Emergency Tech Laney Rucker.  On the night of the Purge, Leo and Charlene quickly realized they've been betrayed, as their security team gets killed, forcing Leo to take Charlene to the streets. They eventually get rescued by Joe and then Laney, and as they seek to avoid being hunted by the team on Charlene's pursuit, they get further assistance by another underground group who is intent on putting an end to the Purge. While fleeing the city, the ambulance which they're using to get away is hit and Charlene is captured. Leo, Joe, Laney, and their recent collaborators go in her pursuit, hoping to save her. 
The nihilistic future "The Purge" sets in motion seems more and more closer to reality, one where privileged sectors of society control its fate and outcomes and where those marginalized suffer the brunt of the challenges in terms of security, stability and hope. This subject matter makes for interesting socially driven films (Ken Loach has made a career of tackling social inequality driven topics), however "The Purge: Election Year", definitely moves in the direction of being a steadfast genre B-movie, while also peppering its narrative with these insights on the perpetual state of inequalities in society. DeMonaco navigates the action set pieces and what he's trying to say message wise fairly deftly, and as a polished B-movie the film for the most part succeeds in getting its point across. The characters are faintly characterized, which is where the film loses some charm, since they're all very highly contrasting, without much nuance, which is to say, the good characters are very beatific and the bad characters, are essentially well deserving of whatever is coming their way. And while this is indeed the premise and terrain in which these films operate, it also dimmers their reach and some of the commentary they set in motion (a bit similar to the conversations and discussions the "Dirty Harry" series started in 1971). The supporting cast brings much of the engagement to this narrative, in particular Mykelti Williamson, Betty Gabriel and Kyle Secor. The cinematography from Jacques Jouffret is effective as is the score from Nathan Whitehead. Worth watching.