STARRING: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Christy Coco, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Liza Colón-Zayas, Ethan Phillips, Adam Cantor, Christopher James Baker, Brittany Mirabile, Raymond J. Barry and Raquel Devonshire
Years after sparing the man who killed his son, former police sergeant Barnes has become head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge.
The Purge: Election Year takes us into the year 2040 where Presidential candidate, Senator Charlie Roan, is gaining ground over the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) candidate, Minister Edwidge Owens, setting the NFFA on a vendetta to kill Roan as they consider her a threat to their rule and use the upcoming Purge to eliminate her from the race completely by revoking the Purge rule that protects Government officials. Luckily for the Senator however is she is protected by her head of security Leo Barnes and the pair go on the run to survive the night from those hunting them down.
Election Year is the third instalment in The Purge franchise and judging by the numbers it has been doing stateside before it finally got released here this weekend ($79m to be exact) maybe The Purge will continue on long after Election Year since it keeps making a profit. The premise of The Purge is interesting and while I wasn’t much of a fan of the first Purge film, I definitely enjoyed the sequel Purge: Anarchy and it set certain things in motion for either Election Year to pick up and run with or focus more on the action/horror aspect and disappoint me. Well, Election Year falls into the latter for me personally.
The film sees the return of The Purge: Anarchy’s MVP, Frank Grillo’s Leo Barnes, and thankfully here he’s the films biggest strength as he goes from Punisher-style antics in Anarchy to full on Jack Bauer-ism’s protecting Presidential candidate Senator Charlie Roan. Elizabeth Mitchell gives a good performance as Roan and it’s good to see Mitchell in a big screen film. The film takes a more political focus, especially in the first act as we finally learn of the reservations of the voices of the public have about the Purge and specifically the New Founding Fathers of America. The idea of self-serving American Government elitists using the Purge to wipe out the poorest of the population may some bonkers in theory, some will see it parallel to how the current Presidential race in the US is playing out.
Unfortunately for The Purge: Election Year, while it starts off promising, it reverts back to basics with action set-pieces with characters moving from one location to another without giving them a chance to develop outside really outside of Barnes and Roan. One particular location, the deli and convenience store, is used for too long in the film and provides possibly one of the most irritating character performances I’ve seen in a while due to how overdramatic it all was. For those wondering who I’m talking about, two words….candy bar. Granted this film at times has its tongue firmly piercing through cheek in terms of how overdramatic the villains are but that one in particular didn’t work for me. Mykelti Williamson’s Joe Dixon provides some dark humour deliveries amongst the blood and action and some will find his dialogue to be stereotypically out of place or just mundane. Once again Edwin Hodge’s appears again as Dante Bishop and while he gets more screen time than in Anarchy, his character is still underdeveloped, even over the course of three films.
The Purge: Election Year is a step backwards for me considering the improvement Anarchy made to the original and while the film starts off promising, it feels lacklustre when the credits role. Once again it scratches the surface but never looks set to achieve its full potential for me and unfortunately I was just bored towards the end. There’s good performances to be had here with Frank Grillo and Elizabeth Mitchell and while the supporting cast are underdeveloped, the characters are likeable enough. Some people will still have a good time with Election Year but the film didn’t hook me in as much as the first two. 4/10