ReelBob: ‘The Purge: Election Year’

By Bob Bloom

Sometimes real life and reel life coalesce in such a timely manner that you’d think it was planned.

And with today’s volatile and bitter political climate — in which those with opposing views are derided, humiliated or even beaten for their views — what could be more appropriate than a film that places a lethal pale over such proceedings.

That is the case with “The Purge: Election Year.” While it cannot be said the movie was ripped from today’s headlines, some of it does borrow a few pages.

Set about 20 years after the original “Purge,” this third installment of writer-director James DeMonaco’s franchise is set at a time of an election for a new leader for the United States.

Protests and objections to the annual Purge are on the rise, especially after reports that the New Founding Fathers of America use the event to target minorities and poor people to reduce public spending for these lower-class citizens.

Thus, like today, class differentiations, race and economics are at the forefront of conflict.

Opposing the Purge is Sen. Charlene “Charlie” Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) who, years before, watched her family slaughtered during a Purge.

The NFFA, as the New Founding Fathers faction is known, are worried about the senator’s rising popularity and plan to use the Purge as a cover to silence her permanently.

The specifics of this very violent, bloody and profane action-thriller are not as important or interesting as its societal and political subtexts.

Let’s just say it contains the usual stock plot devices and stereotypical and archetypal characters you find in such features.

“The Purge: Election Year” is a feature about extremism — political and religious — carried to its farthest, well, extremes. The NFFA followers who support the Purge see it as a cleansing of the country and treat it as a religious experience, complete with a Mass service.

Those opposing — or who see themselves as victims — of the yearly carnage view it as a means of keeping them politically and economically powerless.

If we were to draw parallels with today’s political landscape, they would be with the followers of Donald Trump, whose use of violence and intimidation to quell and silence those who oppose their views are evident on a regular basis.

As movie entertainment, “The Purge: Election Year” offers lots of action, shootings, vehicle chases, narrow escapes and explosions.

As a history lesson, though, it might be prologue.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob ( and Rottentomatoes ( He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.
2½ stars out of 4
(R), graphic and bloody violence, disturbing images, language

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