HOLLYWOOD—It was the thriller of 2013 that took audiences by surprise. It came out of nowhere and delivered a premise so foreign, yet authentic it was downright scary. I’m referring to “The Purge.” The first flick starred Ethan Hawke and Lena Heady, and it was an edge-of-your seat thrill ride from start to finish with a shocking climax. Fast-forward to 2018, and we are now indulging in our third sequel in the franchise, “The First Purge” which is actually a prequel.
The first flick was a classic, the second gets thumbs down, while “The Purge: Election Year” was a nice rebound. So what is the verdict on this fourth outing in the franchise? It’s what you have come to expect in the franchise. This installment doesn’t really bring much to the notion of ‘The Purge’ if you ask me. It’s simply noting for the audience how ‘The Purge’ came to be about and with so many prequels it doesn’t offer anything insightful or game-changing to the franchise that draws excitement.
For those out of the loop, the purge is an event that transpires every year courtesy of the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) where for 12 hours all crime is legal. Yes, its sounds horrific, but the idea itself is genius, but questionable. While fictional, as a viewer, you cannot help, but ask yourself the question: if the purge was legal in real-life how many Americans would actually participate in it? Scary question to ask and that is the catalyst for this prequel. That is what has worked for the franchise: it is very political in nature and deals with issues not only pertaining to crime and politics, but race and the role in plays in politics and crime.
The film stars Lex Scott Davis as Nya whose neighborhood in Staten Island is under siege, as it becomes the testing ground for the social experiment. That experiment was crafted by Dr. May Updale (Marisa Tomei) whose thoughts are through such an experiment the government can decrease the crime rate lower than 1 percent. There is one major problem: not everyone wants to participate in the purge, so the government implements its own plans to attack citizens to ensure the experiment is a success.
Yes, the notion is twisted, but as a viewer it touches a few chords, because it makes you question if our own government would be willing to indulge in such antics to get the results it wants. Yes, they’d just try their best to cover their tracks along the way. The movie has unexpected heroes in Dmitir (Y’Lan Noel), Nya, Isiah (Jovian Wade) and Luisa (Luna Lauren Velez) who do their best to survive the night when a series of events puts them in a fight for survival.
The issue with “The First Purge” is it felt like I was watching “The Purge: Anarchy,” and I didn’t care for that flick too much. We get our typical heroes and villains and it just becomes a question of who will be left standing when those louds sirens go off as the annual purge commences. It’s not like the first flick which left audiences on edge guessing up until the final moments to exactly how the madness would conclude.
I’m sorry to say that after four films, it might be time for “The Purge” franchise to put a nail in the coffin. It was fun while it lasted, but unless you’re about to deliver an unexpected curveball of a narrative to the audience I’m no longer interested in seeing the same thing play out over and over again.