The third entry in The Purge franchise finally arrives in UK cinemas after a franchise high performance in America, and Election Night is the most frustrating instalment so far.
In the run up to the latest Purge night, riots are breaking out as some corners of America believe the New Founding Fathers are pushing the Purge as a means of increasing their wealth. To add to the volatile unease, Senator and Presidental candidate Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) has built her campaign on bringing the Purge to an end should she be elected. Roan’s popularity creates a problem for the New Founding Fathers and to eliminate their problem they decide to change the rules.
For the first time, government officials are fair game and a task force of soldiers have been dispatched to ensure Roan doesn’t survive the night. Luckily, Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) survived the events of the previous sequel and is now working as Roan’s head of security. After a botched attempt on Roan’s life from within her inner-circle, Leo is forced out into the chaos and must protect Roan at all costs. Along they way Leo picks up a few more stragglers, but these characters are mere cannon fodder and we’re not given much time to really care about them.
Conceptually, The Purge has everything it needs to be an interesting piece of satire that holds up a mirror to our own grim social realities. However, once again it’s a mixed bag and despite plenty of well-staged action set pieces, the potential of the concept gives way to guns and mayhem. My frustrations with Election Night come from the narrow window into this messed up near future, while the ultimate goal of Purge night is to cull the population, as ALL crime is legal it is infuriating that James DeMonaco focuses on violent murders. Why not have a Purge movie about a heist or a group of cyber criminals redistributing the world’s wealth, after all, it would be perfectly legit. I’m sure audiences would be less entertained, but as we’re three movies in we should see something new from this wildly inventive concept.
Election Night’s marketing campaign was given one heck of a freebie by coinciding with the real-life events that saw Donald Trump emerge as an unlikely candidate for President. I’ll leave the scathing satire to the experts, but The Purge: Election Night trailer could have been a Trump campaign video. Given the box office success ($108 million so far), we should expect to Purge again soon.