No, this is not a Throwback Thursday, although the film (or films) I’m writing about are not current. At times, it takes me a while to watch movies or shows, and I am not the biggest fan of horror. Which, is the reason for not having watched any of the three Purge movies. The concept, from trailers; was not something that appealed to me. Not until recently and now, I’ve seen all three. Let’s begin a thought analysis, shall we?
Normally, I wouldn’t want to get into anything political or too controversial on this blog. For The Purge, though; I feel there is no other choice, but to do so. Now, I saw the second and third installments first, before watching the original movie. I will review each in its proper order, though.
The Purge (2013)
The Purge originally came out in 2013. It takes place in the year 2022, where America has been taken over by a new political party called The New Founding Fathers of America. To combat a growing crime and poverty rate, they put in place one night where all crime is 100% legal. This includes murder. The point is so people could have 12 hours where they let all their aggression and rage out, and as a result crime for the rest of the year is virtually non-existent and unemployment is below 1%.
The first movie takes place in the house of a family benefiting from the Purge. Ethan Hawke plays a wealthy man, who has been able to provide a beautiful home and life for his family. He sells security systems to others, as people at their core are devious sociopaths and will break in to kill you. Are you smiling at your neighbor? Perhaps you shouldn’t because they potentially are plotting your murder all year in anticipation for the annual Purge.
In comparison to the other two, I found this movie boring. If I had seen it first, I wouldn’t have moved on to the other two. The first Purge starts out like any 80s horror movie. We see a bright and sunny town, with loving upper-class families who are in full support of the Purge. They think that the Purge has saved their country and they even watch the events of the night as if they’re discovering their neighbors bought a new set of golf clubs.
That all comes crashing down when the young son of the family takes pity on a hurt, homeless man on the run. He lets the man in and that’s when things go from bad to worse. There’s a group of some Donald Trump looking kids who state they had their eyes on the homeless man. Release him and the family will be spared. Because Hawke’s character (James Sandin) supports the Purge, he is inclined to comply. It’s only after he and his wife take a long hard look at what this says about them as people that they instead decide to fight back against the creepy group.
I guess The Purge was a good story of how you really don’t concern yourself with an issue until it directly affects you. James Sandin saw the good in the Purge, until seeing what a horrific display of inhumanity it was. And in the end, it’s the homeless stranger who not only goes on to save the rest of the family, but is a consistent character in the trilogy. Still, I found it predictable and boring, so it gets a 5/10.
The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
Things start to get good here. For the second installment, we are taken out of the rich suburban neighborhood to get into the heart of real America. Middle working class citizens prepare for the Purge. And most, do not fully have the means to defend themselves. In this one, people are frantic to get back to their homes. No one wants to be out in the middle of this Godless night.
We also meet three stories. A mother and her daughter who take care of their ill father/grandfather. Right away, this movie tugged at my heartstrings, as the terminally ill grandfather decides to make himself a martyr to a wealthy family to purge, in exchange for 100k for his family. That’s right – rich assholes buy poor people to sacrifice.
We also have a married couple, who are in the midst of a separation; when their car breaks down in the middle of probably the last place you want to be on Purge night. We then have our main protagonist for the story. Frank Grillo plays Sergeant Leo Barnes, a man who prepares to exact revenge on the man who killed his son a year prior in a drunk driving accident. Along the way, Leo saves the other two groups despite his main objective for the night.
In this movie, no one likes the Purge. Those who do, are either criminally sadistic assholes or rich sadistic assholes. For the lower, to middle-class families, this night is a nightmare. They do not have the means to protect themselves and are often targets for others. There is also a great redemption story to Leo Barnes in this. He originally set out to Purge the man responsible for his son’s death. Throughout the night, he ends up being the reluctant hero for the other two groups. And then, they are the ones who help him not to commit the crime he planned. For if he killed that man, he’d be no better than all the others purging that night. Definitely 9/10.
The Purge: Election Year (2016)
The third installment of the trilogy was not subtle in their comparisons to our most recent election. We have two candidates running for the White House who are on totally opposite sides of The Purge. Charlie Roan lost her entire family in a previous Purge and wishes to end the night forever. She, like many rebel groups; believe the Purge was simply meant to get rid of the poor and lower class. We find out that this is very much true. The ideal that the night was meant as an outlet for rage is all BS – it was the government’s intention that they could get rid of the “undesirables” of society with the Purge.
The message behind Election Year is so poignant. Those most affected are the working class and POC. We have a store owner who resorts to protecting his deli himself because his insurance company purposely raised their rates the day before the Purge. We have a young man coming from Mexico for a better life and who has worked his way up in the deli, to the point where the owner is wanting to make him a partner. And one of the most badass females Laney Rucker serves as a one-woman killing/saving machine.
The New Founding Fathers try to rig the election by making it now legal to kill politicians. This means, they have their eyes set on Charlie Roan and Leo, her bodyguard; has to do everything in his power to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s a great story where corruption loses in the end. Leo and the rebels (led by Dante Bishop, the homeless man in the first movie) manage to keep Roan alive. She also shows mercy to her competitor, the man who orchestrated her attempted assassination. And in the end, she ends up winning the election by a landslide. Her first order of business: ending the Purge. The movie gets a 8/10.
The Purge Trilogy is something worth watching. Especially the second and third. Not to sound like Charlie Roan, but the soul of our world is at stake. And in these movies, we are put face to face with the inhumanity that our social media centered lives are society displays. We’ve seen many times how callous people can be online and those faces appear in these movies as the same people purging. I don’t get that feeling from the first one, but it does set up the story. I just hope we don’t have something like that put in place in this country.
Side Note: The 2nd and 3rd films are super worth watching for Frank Grillo being hot and badass alone.