Saturday, December 17, 2016

In short: The Purge: Election Year (2016)

Welcome to the third round of misadventures in a near-future USA ruled by a cabal whose rhetoric sounds a bit too much as if they’d fit right in with the actual near-future president of that particular country. There’s still the yearly Purge Night going on, where said twelve hours see all crime legal, leaving a lot of (mostly poor) people dead. Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) wants to change that and abolish Purge Night if she becomes president – she even has a change to win the coming election.

In fact, the senator’s chances are so good, the Purge-loving establishment of the New Founding Fathers decides to make good use of the coming Purge Night and get rid of their enemy while acquiring a particularly pleasant human sacrifice for their not-so-secret ceremonies. Fortunately, Roan’s security chief is Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo). You might remember Leo as a rather lethal and effective kind of guy from The Purge: Anarchy, so the senator still has a good chance for survival even when members of her staff betray her.

Roan and Leo end up being chased through the streets by purgers and the mercs hired to kill her alike, but rather sooner than later they find allies in form of corner shop owner Joe (Mykelti Williamson), his employee and friend Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria), and Laney Rucker (Betty Gabriel) who drives an underground triage truck on Purge Nights to make up for the bad shit she once did when she herself went purging.

Clearly, after the somewhat misguided home invasion movie that began it all, the Purge series had found its sweet spot with the near-future action of Anarchy, and writer/director/producer James DeMonaco continues with Election Year in the tone he left off with. So, the third Purge movie again offers blunt politics that suddenly look uncomfortably close to the spirit of the times, street level action in the spirit of Escape from New York, and about half a dozen warmed-up action movie clichés done well enough I don’t particularly mind how often I’ve seen them already.

While the film has some moments of semi-surrealist weirdness – mainly through many a mood-building vignette by the wayside of our protagonists’ path and a finale featuring fascist cultists who aren’t hiding their love for human sacrifices – its action tends to the more earthbound type. While calling it realistic would be absurd, the violence here does not go in for flying people (or cars) or big slow motion fests. As in the last film, DeMonaco is rather effective using this approach, so there’s a pleasant flow of diverse violence committed by a cast whose ethnic make-up puts the film’s money where its mouth is.

As an old leftie, I can’t disagree with the film’s politics much, either, even if it’s the sledgehammer version of a part of leftist thought sold to us by Universal, an irony that should probably bother me more than it actually does.

No comments: