What's it about?
Third entry in the dystopian near-future franchise in which America 'purges' its apparent sins by staging twelve hours of unfettered lawlessness once a year. Social divisions are stronger than ever before and there is a rising resentment for 'The Purge' itself, and with a strong contender for the White House vocally opposed to the whole event, the architects of the annual orgy of violence attempt to silence their loudest critic once and for all.
Who would I recognise in it?
Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, and others.
There are certain gaps in the internal logic of the entire 'Purge' idea that have been there since the beginning, and the previous two films (The Purge, and The Purge: Anarchy) have demonstrated some dunderheaded plotting at times, but after some improvements in the second film it's good to see that the third shows another upwards leap in quality. Not only does the film explore some of the side effects of the annual Purge (murder tourists, roaming body disposal etc), it also proves to be a surprisingly relevant and potent film...
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Released during the year in which Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, "Election Year" feels like a yowl of desperation birthed from a crumbling socio-political landscape. Both the Trump and Clinton campaigns didn't cover themselves in glory, and there was a shocking amount of violent hyperbole chucked around as the candidates pandered to the nation with hollow promises and catchphrases (we've been seeing the exact same bullshit here in the UK in the last couple of years). Riffing on the reprehensible nature of two sides splitting to further and further extremes, and the destabilisation that results, The Purge: Election Year finally gives us something to chew on, and so now the script can match the creative visuals of the franchise (the gang in the car draped in fairy lights, the alleyway guillotine).
Slickly paced, stylish, aggressive, and disappointed in the real world surrounding it, the flick ultimately aims for hope in a story that leans into its high-stakes set-up and milks it effectively. The tone is dark and seething, and even the good guys stand perilously close to sinking into the depths of their opponents. There is a way back to moderation and a pragmatic sense of fairness, but will society at large be capable of achieving it? This applies to the world in the film and the world in which we actually walk. Do we need a fourth one, though? It'd be best for Election Year to go out on a high note as the best in the franchise, I'd say. Good.