The last film seemed to signal the end (or did it?), so it’s time to circle back to the beginning. I’m too lazy to circle back to my old Purge posts, but I’m pretty sure that I raved about how much I love the concept. I still feel like the films take it a different way than I would think about it, but the point is that the idea is incredible thought provoking and effective. Plus it’s a great excuse for some of the old ultra violence. It’s like watching these films gives me the release that the characters crave.
It’s the not too distant future. A new political party is in play. They’ve teamed up with a psychologist (Marissa Tomei? What is she doing here?) to try a new experiment. For one night, all crime will be legal in Staten Island. Citizens are promised compensation if they remain on the island, and more if they participate in the night’s events. The hopes is that the release will allow people to let go of their anger and function better as a society. If all goes well, maybe this event will be rolled out nationwide. Hey did anyone else notice that the majority of the population of this area is in extreme poverty? Hmm, that could be relevant.
On the ideas front, I liked this. It’s interesting seeing where it all started, even if that proved to be a bit problematic for the action (more on that in a bit). And while the films always dealt with the plight of the lower class, the powers that be in this story were less secretive about their true intentions. They were blatant about the fact that the poorest of the poor were targeted here. So as far as proliferating the ideas of the purge, this film was effective.
Where it was less effective was in the action. That’s the flip side of this movies, and why they generally work so well. You’ve got something tangible to think about, but you’ve also got a rush from the action. Here, by the simple nature of this being the starting point, it took way too long for the intensity to build. I didn’t feel any urgency until the third act (and by then, it required ignoring some massive plotholes in order to accept it). I never felt the inner ick that usually comes with being loose on the streets of Purge Night, mostly because this didn’t feel like a true Purge night yet.
Once it picked up, it was good, it’s just that it took a while to get there. There was a really cool fight in the smoke that I was totally digging. It was also around then that the characters finally started to click for me. Their relationships had solidified and I cared about what happened to them. Why couldn’t that have happened about an hour earlier tho?
I still love this franchise and I’m all for it keeping going, I just hope the next one brings us back to the top form that I’ve come to expect.
The First Purge – \m/ \m/ \n