Director: James DeMonaco
Writer: James DeMonaco
Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Josepeh Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Brittany Mirabile, and Raymond J. Barry
Synopsis: 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.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
The Purge films have evolved since the beginning. The first film was set within a home, with Anarchy opening up to the streets, and for the better. Now, with Election Year the action is back on the streets, but this time with political overtones, and arguably fit into today’s political field. But, Election Year doesn’t forget what it is, and goes back to the streets in a gritty and violent fashion.
The Purge: Election Year takes place two years after the events in Anarchy, and brings back hero Leo Barnes (Grillo), now as the head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Mitchell), who is running for President, and a Purge survivor, on the platform to eliminate the Purge. Of course, this makes her a target for the New Founding Fathers of America – or the NFFA – that want to use the Purge to kill her. Meanwhile, a grocery store owner Joe Dixon (Williamson), his co-worker Marcos (Soria), and friend Laney Rucker (Gabriel), who runs a triage van that helps people during the Purge, get sucked into the mix after purgers go after Joe’s store, and revolutionary Dante Bishop, from the past two films, is leading a charge to put an end to the Purge as well.
I have to hand it to director and writer James DeMonaco, who constantly changes the world with every film. Anarchy opened the world up and was a great addition to the series. Election Year keeps the action out on the streets, but puts more of the story into the political side of things. That might drive some people away, and it is heavy-handed at times, but DeMonaco does a descent job of not letting the two stances – the Purge being bad and, well, keeping the film true to itself – in check. It does make the film battle itself, but overall Election Year is a good addition to the series.
When it comes to the characters, Frank Grillo’s character doesn’t have the same great arc like Anarchy, but he’s still an unstoppable killing machine when need be to protect Roan. Elizabeth Mitchell’s Senator Roan is the idealistic one that wants to change the world for the better, even after finding out the NFFA wants her dead. Mykelti Williamson and Joseph Julian Soria are arguably the best part of the film. Their chemistry is great together and once they get into the fold with Leo and Roan, it adds a great deal of levity and fun. Betty Gabriel’s Laney has a history that is mentioned in passing, but nothing really happens with the exception of one quick scene.
Edwin Hodge returns to the series, this time with an actual name in Dante Bishop. For those that don’t remember, Hodge was the Stranger that was in the first film, and had a brief role in the second film at the end. Now, he’s here essentially taking over the Michael Kenneth Williams’ role from Anarchy as the revolutionary trying to stop the Purge, but in a more grand fashion. Terry Serpico plays the leader of a militia group set to kill the Senator. Another interesting cast tidbit, is this is the first time we see the New Founding Father’s of America. They’ve been mentioned in the past, but this is the first time we actually see them, and they are about what you suspect.
The cinematography is great once again, and the Purge events in the film are horrifying as ever with the crazy character costumes and production design. I won’t say that Election Year is better than Anarchy, but with this film going back to more of its horror genre roots, Election Year does set itself apart.
All in all, The Purge: Election Year is another great addition to the Purge films. While its political tones get a bit heavy handed at times, and get a bit mudded with the overall tone of the film, Election Year is still a hell of a lot of fun.
The Purge: Election Year
4 out of 5