How does a country achieve 1% unemployment and virtually no crime? Trump, take note: Make one night a year a purge night. Throw all rules aside, and let everyone do anything to anyone1 without the fear of persecution. An intriguing concept for sure and The Purge trilogy delivers some disturbing and entertaining movies—when are the two mutually exclusive, after all?—likely based on 2018.
So! The movies…
The original’s concept was larger than its budget and was so scaled back to a storyline taking place solely in a house. In it, a family led by a dapper Ethan Hawke arms its security system, expecting to sit through the night while the purge does its thing outside.
Obviously, the movie is not 90 minutes of people just sitting around.
The well-meaning son lets a homeless person in to hide from a chasing mob, which doesn’t go over too well with The Freaks, as they’re called. Yes, they want in, but Ethan isn’t about to go down without a fight.
Tiny budget aside—I assume the majority of the three million went into Mr. Hawke’s pocket—this reminds me a bit of Night of the Living Dead. People stuck in a house, a mob trying to come in… We also get the added layer of a family trying to get the homeless person back out so they can be let alone, which brings up all kinds of moral dilemmas.
The Purge is a tense, interesting movie, and particularly Rhys Wakefield deserves a shout-out for his role as The Freaks’s «Polite Leader». Some cheap scares and predictable action scenes aside, I enjoyed the less than 90 minutes of this quasi-dystopia fiction(-ish).
The Purge: Anarchy
The Purge pulled in more than USD 60 million, which might not be huge numbers, but is still 20 times that of its budget. A sequel was inevitable, and the franchise made its first step to reach a cult-plus status2.
Does The Purge predict the future? I would say yes, merely based on the new founding father sharing his first name with (y)our 45th (official) president.
Anarchy is quite different from its predecessor in format, taking on a 1970s, running-through-the-street action pace, while keeping a similar feel. Led by a very grizzly Frank Grillo—out for revenge—we get some awesome action trope-y, Charles Bronson class fun. Think Once Upon a Time in the West meets Escape from New York and you get a general idea. Hell, there is a bit of Running Man in here too; the book, not the movie.
With a USD 9 million budget, franchise creator James DeMonaco got some good creative freedom, and the movie has a stylish look about it. Lighting and cinematography are both top notch.
I quite enjoyed the tense journey through the streets of… who knows where… and Anarchy is my choice entry in the franchise. With USD 71 million in the bank, there was, of course, no doubt we would get…
The Purge: Election Year
Oi, red flags about from the beginning. This seems too A-movie like. Too slick. What the hell is someone of Elizabeth Mitchell’s stature doing here?!
Then! In walks Frank Grillo, as manly as a manly man’s man can be, and we know… Everything will be OK.
Mitchell, as it is, holds her own as a candidate for president who wants to abolish the purge. Her opponent, a New Founding Fathers pick, is out to get rid of her, and hey! What better time to do so than exactly that night?!
Frank Grillo to the rescue. And this time, flanked by a very badass Betty Gabriel.
The A-movie nonsense ends soon enough, and Election Year even flirts with the blaxploitation genre, which seems fitting with the franchise’s 1970s finesse.
More so than the former movies, we get some excellent one-liners; not the lame 80s style ones, but ones fitting for this kind of a film. (For whatever reason, even «heeeelllll no!» seemed acceptable.)
And Dante Bishop, the only character from the two previous movies, gets his share of screen-time and makes the best of it. If the world was falling to pieces, I would decidedly want him on my side.
Election Year might start off too slick, but it gets well bizarre and entertaining enough to live up to its own mythology soon enough.
All three movies are unapologetically actiony, and I like that. It’s easier to forgive the flaws when they go 100% in like this.3 The second entry is the best one, but the third one comes close. The first one is kind of its own thing and works well as a thriller.
Check up on the movies and take lessons for what we are in for. There are many to be learned.
1 Minus high-ranking political officials, of course.
2 Too successful to be true cult, yet not successful enough to be… successful.
3 One of the reasons I also enjoyed Suicide Squad.