Studio: Universal Pictures (105 min.)
Plot: A group of unlikely allies band together to protect a senator on Purge night.
Cast: Elizabeth Mitchell, Frank Grillo, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel
Bottom Line: ***1/2
By Samantha Ofole-Prince
There's a deft mix of horror, action, thriller and an underlying political message in this 3rd installment of "The Purge" franchise.
A provocative concept, where crimes are deemed legal for a set period each year, the prequels “The Purge” and “The Purge: Anarchy,” released in 2013 and 2014, respectively, earned $200 million at the worldwide box office.
This sequel returns us to a dystopian future…this time in Washington, D.C., on the eve of a heated presidential election with the nation deeply divided between those who are pro- and anti-Purge. Just steps away from the nation's capital, a revolution is brewing among protestors who believe The Purge is simply the leadership’s covert way of eliminating the poor and vulnerable to allow only the elites to thrive.
With crime contained to just one night once again, this 12-hour of annual lawlessness sees political adversaries and revolutionaries ready to eliminate each other by any means necessary.
Writer/director James DeMonaco is back at the helm of this drama and this time, it looks like he's having even more fun exploring this new diverse group of actors.
Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo of "The Purge: Anarchy") is also back and now serves as head of security for Sen. Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell). Part of the senator's political campaign is to abolish The Purge, which naturally makes her a target. Refusing to go into hiding, as it would send the wrong message to her supporters, Leo hires several members of the secret service to protect her. When the security detail is compromised, they both end up on the streets, where they are rescued by Joe (Mykelti Williamson), an inner-city deli owner who's protecting his store since he can't afford The Purge insurance rates. Along with Joe’s cashier, Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria), an immigrant from Mexico, and Laney (Betty Gabriel), a gang banger turned paramedic who drives a triage van on Purge night, the unlikely allies team up on the mean streets of D.C. as they are ruthlessly pursued by a motley group of pro-purge supporters. They have one common mission --- to save the senator so she can get into the White House and abolish The Purge.
Dante Bishop (Edwin Hodge of "The Purge: Anarchy," "The Purge") also returns in this thriller and is now a revolutionary leader hunting the pro-Purge presidential candidate.
This film is hyper-violent, intensely gory, but excruciatingly entertaining as you watch the group trying to survive one grisly night of lawlessness. One woman kills her husband, because she "just got tired of looking at his face." Another is intent on killing Joe and destroying his store because he caught her stealing a candy bar hours earlier.
There's a few racial references mostly from Williamson. One line in particular comes halfway through the film when he sees a group of gang bangers heading towards them, he exclaims; "There's a bunch of Negros coming our way and we're sitting here like a bucket of chicken!"
It's a bold thriller that doesn't sacrifice character development and DeMonaco gets kudos for sharing each character’s unique situation as Purge Night approaches. There are strong male and female leads who are not only fighting for survival, but fighting to take the power back from those who have abused it.
If politics isn't your cup of tea, there’s still plenty to feast on. Watching ordinary people trying to survive under extraordinary circumstances is relatable and believable and that’s what makes it so intriguing and entertaining.
Like Blackflix.com On Facebook
Follow Blackflix.com On Twitter
Printed in the July 24, 2016 - August 6, 2016 edition.