The Purge: Election Year
dir-scr James DeMonaco
prd Jason Blum, Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, Sebastien K Lemercier
with Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Betty Gabriel, Joseph Julian Soria, Raymond J Barry, Adam Cantor, Liza Colon-Zayas, Ethan Phillips, Terry Serpico
release US 1.Jul.16, UK 26.Aug.16
16/US Universal 1h49
The Purge: Election Year
World on fire: Grillo and Mitchell

williamson secor barry
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The Purge: Election Year That orgy of violence is back with a third movie in this gruesome satirical franchise, which consists of a continuous display of hideous brutality strung together with a rather smart plot that has current sociological parallels. But filmmaker James DeMonaco should have learned by now that he can't preach against violence while at the same time glorifying it.

Purge leader Caleb (Barry) is changing the rules of this year's 12-hour period of legalised anarchy so he can eliminate his opposition. His main targets are popular purge-surviving presidential candidate Charlie (Mitchell) and activist Dante (Hodge), both of whom have noted that lower income communities are the prime victims, while the wealthy benefit. Charlie has experienced security chief Leo (Grillo) to protect her. Meanwhile, shop-owner Joe (Williamson) has just lost his insurance, so he plans to take a stand with his young worker Marcos (Soria), while Laney (Gabriel) cruises the streets in her triage van.

Honestly, the people in this version of America are far too creative about how they inflict ghastly horror on each other. This means that the grisliest mayhem looks slick and cool, even as it inflicts maximum pain and degradation. Of course, it isn't long before there's an organised attack on Charlie's fortified house by a team of costumed goons with an inside connection. And it doesn't take long for Leo and Charlie to connect with Joe and Marcos, followed by an odyssey of gunfire, explosions and rampant sadism.

The actors inject some intelligence by delivering the meatier dialog with conviction, boosting the film's tenuous connection with its important themes. The roles are fairly thankless, as most characters merely need to be feisty and tough. This time, writer-director DeMonaco tries to add some female energy - both heroic and villainous - to the overpowering machismo. Mitchell and Soria have plenty of presence, although they still need men to rescue them.

The fact that most perpetrators wear masks is clearly a metaphor for social media, augmented by additional elements like "murder tourists" arriving from abroad to participate in the blood-drenched mayhem. These three adeptly made movies have all had a disturbingly uneasy combination of social commentary and gratuitous violence. They're more memorable for their grotesque gore than any timely political themes. But the most resonant moment comes when Joe moans, "I hate this night!"

cert 15 themes, violence, language 15.Aug.16

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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall