Frank Grillo returns as the Sergeant, Leo Barnes, from The Purge: Anarchy (2014) in this scrappy third Purge movie, each film weaker than its predecessor, after the excellent original The Purge (2013).
Returning writer-director James DeMonaco does what he can to make it seem fresh and relevant, which isn’t much really.
Barnes is now head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), protecting her as she runs for President. A betrayal forces them onto the streets of Washington D.C. on the night of the annual Purge and they must try to stay alive till dawn.
Grillo is a good, strong, solid central presence, and Mitchell is fine as the feisty US Senator whose life he is trying to save on Purge night, though her character is a shade irritating, borderline annoying. It’s hard to see why all these nice folks in the movie would risk their lives to save her. Of course, if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have a movie at all.
Mykelti Williamson brings some much-needed character and humanity to the film as good-hearted store owner Joe Dixon, who has made the mistake of alienating a young customer stealing from his shop just before The Purge.
Reality, truth and logic have been left far behind, but then it’s only a movie, and at heart only a Z-grade horror movie at that. Fortunately, there are quite a few basic shocks and scares, along with a lot of tension and one or two excellent set piece fear sequences, along the way to its improbable ending. Its bid to be topical is also an attempt to bring the ring of truth back to the project, which does work to some extent. I’m sure we all hope Hillary Clinton won’t have to survive a bumpy night on the streets in her Election Year.
The production is good enough, but it does give the impression that there are only about three little sets of people anywhere in America. Ah well, focus is good.
I feel thoroughly purged now – no more please, not unless you can persuade original stars Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey back. There’s something essentially very unpleasant, queasy-making and bad karma about this movie. It’s inherent in the whole saga, but now they can’t disguise it. OK, OK, I know, it’s a horror movie.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Movie Review
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