UNIVERSAL PICTURES (2016)

Director: James DeMonaco

Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel

The Purge: Election Year continues the story from the previous instalment, it’s Purge night fast approaching and people are out for revenge – made clear by various set ups in the intro. Except this time, the political exposition is bought to the forefront, and plays as the underlying theme throughout. This adds an extra layer to the movie, as opposed to just mindless street murders and people on the run.

Returning is Frank Grillo, now promoted to head of security, and he brings his haunted good guy approach back to the fold – though now even more cynical and untrusting then he was before. Grillo delivers a fine performance again and is adept at handling the ruthless and the lighter sides of the character.

The rest of the cast are dependable enough for what they are required to do, Mykelti Williamson brings the humour to the movie, mainly in the form of overblown racial politics and the shoplifters bring an over the top zealousness that lifts the movie from being simply grey and gloomy (even if they were very over the top). Elizabeth Mitchell seemed to be dressed as a sultry secretary during the film, though I’m sure this wasn’t the intention.

DeMonaco stays within his familiar boundaries here, with tight handheld shots clinging to the characters throughout, allowing for the claustrophobia to spread, and making the big streets seem smaller. Also, the same use of grand imagery is at play throughout with some particularly striking visuals – the masks returned in different colourful form, a shoplifters car is decked out in fairylights emerging from the darkness (as well as their gold / diamond plated AK-47’s), the Purge Mass and unrestrained insanity of Kyle Secor – it all comes together to create a familiar, yet bigger imagining of the dystopian world.

Disappointingly, there are no real revelations attached to the movie, and the unsatisfying, obvious ending wraps the movie (and possibly franchise) tidily, but predictably. DeMonaco had a chance with the movie to take risks and provide more shocks, but instead seemed to take the tried and trusted route. It would have also been nice to finally find out what happens if you commit crime outside of the Purge, or if you break Purge rules during, but alas, the mystery will live on.

If The Purge: Election Year is to be the final movie on the franchise, then it ends on a good note – and a note that’s been tied up and given a pretty much absolute conclusion also. Good entertainment, and again, good to look at.

September 30th 2016

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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