The confrontational mess of America’s current presidential campaign lends an extra bit of blunt force to the third film in the dystopian ‘Purge’ franchise. If you haven’t seen the earlier films, ‘The Purge’ is an annual 12-hour window when all crime in America (especially murder) is legal.
Writer-director James DeMonaco makes explicit here what the previous films only hinted at: The Purge has been designed by all-white rulers the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) to whittle down the poor and non-white masses. The focus in the new film is on a female senator and presidential candidate, Senator Charlie Roan (‘Lost’ actress Elizabeth Mitchell), whose campaign is built on ending The Purge. After surviving an NFFA assassination attempt, she goes on the run through the violent streets of Washington with her head of security (Frank Grillo). They’re helped out by a group of working-class African and Mexican American citizens led by deli owner Joe (Mykelti Williamson).
The action is largely routine and the dialogue rarely more than functional, but, marshalling the franchise’s best production values yet, DeMonaco shrewdly taps into the angry zeitgeist of the US right now. His vision of an America where the citizens are encouraged to express their basest emotions is more relevant than ever. While there’s no explicit Donald Trump analog, the climactic sequence, where the filmmaker really hits his stride, offers a scary glimpse of radical conservatism taken to its logical extreme. The NFFA doesn’t want to build a wall to keep out undesirables, but to exterminate those already here.