The Purge movies always had an interesting concept. What if the entire country had 12 hours once a year to do whatever they wanted and no consequences? The first movie, the one with Ethan Hawke and Game of Thrones Lena Headey, disappointingly took that concept and turned it into a sort of lame home invasion thriller that lacked any real substance. However, the second and third movies (Anarchy and Election Year) raised the bar several levels and actually took the concept to where it needed to be, open world, and it starred Frank Grillo, who just sweats badassness, and both films had enough substance in them to warrant the franchises existence. The movies increasingly got better, with the third one being the best. Three years, three different purges. With all that world building and increased rate of destruction and violence, shouldn’t THE FIRST PURGE be the most interesting, seeing how everything got to where it was in the three previous movies? You would think wouldn’t you? Instead you get the worst installment in the franchise, even worse than the first installment, which was no small feat to beat, and you get the feeling that maybe this entire series is finally on its last leg.
For those that still want to see this movie, I won’t spoil how the first purge comes together, the rules, or the circumstances (I’m surprised the trailer doesn’t reveal it all, because it reveals the “twist” that happens in the middle of the movie), but suffice to say, it’s all very poorly constructed on a storytelling level. I was kind of bored and eye rolling with everything they came up with. I thought, that like Election Year, the franchise would turn even more political than it ever has been before. But the political themes and motifs are half conceptualized and executed. All cliche with very little imagination. I thought the movie would actually have more jokes or themes geared toward the Trump presidency, but all we get is a quick “pussy grabbing” joke that comes nearly out of nowhere and without much resonance to the rest of the film.
And I didn’t care about one single character. I cared about Frank Grillo and some of the other characters in the second and third, and I cared about the young family members in even the first film. I didn’t care for one person in this. There was nobody to root for. Obviously I wasn’t rooting for the government. But am I supposed to root for the drug king gang lord? Or any of his workers? Or his churchy ex girlfriend that makes some really dumb decisions in the throughout the entire film or her brother that deals drugs that somehow makes even dumb ones? There is absolutely no character development in this film. They even set up a big main purge baddie, called Skeletor, and while he is menacing and downright scary and evil he disappears for over half the film and shows up just when the film needs him to and completely wastes his arc. Marisa Tomei is the most recognizable name in the movie, and even she is wasted. To not go into spoilers as much as I can, her character obviously has an ultimate fate, and it is the most mismanaged and full assed thing in the entire film, and it looked like Tomei didn’t even half to be there for it to happen. And like her character’s ultimate fate, it just seems this entire film was just tossed into the wind with no care of how the end product turned up as long as it stayed on the very small budget it has, and that it gets into theaters to make as much of a profit as possible.
And none of the kills or violence had any sort of uniqueness to them whatsoever. In fact you could tell that a lot of the blood and effects were completely CGI and quickly made on a cheap computer with no extra touch ups. It was pretty pathetic. And you think that Incredibles 2 had a weird flashing light epilepsy scene? This film should have warnings before you enter the theater as well. Part of the last third of the film takes place in a apartment complex tower and the power quickly goes out, and for about 10 to 15 minutes, the lights quickly go in and out. Not only was it annoying and damaging to my eyes, it distracted from the rest of the movie, whatever left of it there was to focus on.
And the story’s twist? About how at first the purge isn’t racking up the bodies it needs to so the government sends mercenaries to up the body count? You know how that is in the trailer? Yeah, well that is just the filmmakers showing all of its cards. If they would’ve kept that from marketing, it might’ve added a little something in a unsavable film, however, since I was expecting it because of the trailers and tv spots, it didn’t shock and awe me as a viewer and I just didn’t care. Needless to say, this purge was the worst and a big utter disappointment, since every installment was increasingly getting better. But with this lame shit show, the franchise is finally starting to show its wear and tear, and one day, may have to purge itself from our cinematic world.