Post by StevePulaski on Jul 1, 2016 13:30:47 GMT -5
The Purge: Anarchy (2014) Directed by: James DeMonaco
"Just remember all the good The Purge does..."
It was, admittedly, very difficult to disguise my massive disappointment with James DeMonaco's Purge just a little over a year ago, as I excited the theater deeply unsatisfied and underwhelmed at what I thought would be the most stimulating and thought-provoking thriller of the year. The film had a premise all its own, about a nation reborn thanks to a twelve-hour period of time, once a year, where all crime - including rape and murder - were legal and could be committed freely amongst people in an inconsequential manner. However, rather than focus on the chaos and the cacophony of madness just right outside, the film turned out to be a cheap and unremarkable home-invasion thriller, set from the perspective of a family who had the means to protect themselves during these treacherous times. It was like watching a social revolution from your mansion, overlooking a gigantic mountain through your tattered blinds and was about as fun as that sounds.
The Purge: Anarchy, just from the trailers, looked to be not only the kind of film that would greatly improve upon its lukewarm but uncommonly ambitious predecessor, but also give audiences what they thought they were getting when they bought a ticket to see the original Purge film. I come confirming my judgments every time I saw the trailer in the theater; The Purge: Anarchy is a wonderful execution of one of the most original and frightening premises I've heard in this new decade. A tense, alive thriller and a well-acted display all the more, the film is also rich with commentary and thought-provoking drama and ideology surrounding the purge and bears an impact long after the lights go up.
During the introduction of the film, we meet again, mere hours away from the commencement of the annual Purge, as I just explained above. We are following three distinct groups of people, all the while interjecting into lawless rats just waiting for the announcement to come across the loudspeakers and the sirens to ring so they can unleash hell upon this nation reborn. One is a young couple (Zack Gilford and Kiele Sanchez), on the brink of separation, taking back-routes, avoiding highways, just trying to get home to their sanctuary before all hell breaks loose. Another is a mother and daughter duo (Carmen Ejogo and Zoe Soul), who live in a low-income area, one of the many ones targeted by Purgers. Finally, we have the enigmatic Sergeant Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), an attractive man riding in a bulletproof Mustang, who is clearly seeking some form of vengeance on this night.
This group of people come together when the mother and daughter duo find themselves about to be victim to a man in a heavily-armored car with a turret, once the Purge commences. Leo steps in, after spur-of-the-moment contemplation, and shoots up their attackers before finding the young couple inside his car begging for a ride. The five are now in this together, looking for some brief form of refugee away from the violence, but one with unfinished business to take care of; the main objective now becomes survive the night, avoiding any and all kinds of lawlessness while desperately trying to keep everyone close and out of harm's way.
The film lives up to its title in the regard that the film's pacing stays consistent, never slowing down and never coming down to a grinding halt to let some unexpectedly boring bout of moralistic integrity play with the characters. The film remains a worthwhile riot, quite literally, using its solid array of actors (especially Grillo, who is captivating and mystifying as the main lead in the film). Not to mention, The Purge: Anarchy rights one of its predecessor's biggest wrongs, which is identifying why the Purge allegedly reduces crime rate, why it allegedly lessens unemployment, and why it has allegedly been successful, along with its New Founding Fathers. It does all this by introducing a thoroughly interesting group of rebels, who work to combat the Purge and all it stands for, run by its humanist leader, who believes The Purge is just an event to eliminate the poor and help the wealthy increase their capital and their egos.
Consistently, writer/director DeMonaco ushers in new ideas, zealously welcoming many different aspects of what could happen in a usually-populated downtown area during this psychotic night, while leaving (most likely purposefully) numerous ideas unexplored. Just the last twenty minutes of the film could be used as the building blocks for another screenplay revolving around this twelve hour escapade. I would be interested in seeing three or four more films exploring this idea from different perspectives - the wealthy, the homeless, gang-infested areas, and so forth, for The Purge idea still feels extremely unexplored, even with two films directly catering to the idea.
The Purge: Anarchy finds the rare and often blurred crossroads between extremely graphic violence and social commentary, satisfying parties who came for the carnage and the parties who came for the insight both fittingly and accordingly. Unlike many films with sizable ambition, the film goes for broke, and as a result, succeeds because it has clearly thought about this idea and its impact, and creates one of the tensest pieces of film the year 2014 has yet to see (keep in mind, all this was erected from one of 2013's most lackluster and disappointing films).
Starring: Frank Grillo, Zack Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Carmen Ejogo, and Zoe Soul. Directed by: James DeMonaco.
Site Notes: Created: August 13, 2009. Official Date Opened: August 14, 2009. First Member: PukemonMaster.
Post by StevePulaski on Jul 1, 2016 14:00:19 GMT -5
The Purge: Election Year (2016) Directed by: James DeMonaco
Whether you like it or not, accept it or deny it, James DeMonaco's massively and unexpectedly successful Purge franchise has become one of the best sociopolitical critiques in American film of this century. It's a look at many things, from income inequality, America's obsession with violence, its love and fixation with guns and violent weapons, and a culture that can relentlessly murder people during a government-sanctioned period of twelve hours before operating like nothing ever happened upon the next sunrise.
The constant in all The Purge movies is that the government officials - the current American political party known as "The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA)," particularly - were exempt from the Purge. In Election Year, following controversy with the NFFA President incumbent Earl Danzinger (Tony Serpico) being challenged by Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), who is running as an independent on an anti-Purge platform, the protection of top government officials during the twelve-hour Purge, where all crime, even robbery and murder, is legal, is revoked. Senator Roan - who was the sole survivor after her family was viciously slaughtered many Purges ago - agrees to stay in the densely populated city during the Purge to continue to prove and follow her ethical, anti-violence platform and not accept any kind of evasive or sanctuary privileges outside of bodyguards.
However, when one of Senator Roan's bodyguards betrays her, allowing a band of heavily armed, neo-Nazis in to infiltrate and attempt to kill her, which would all but assure that Danzinger would win the election and the NFFA would still hold power in the U.S. Senator Roan winds up being heavily protected by Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), the same man who took prominence in The Purge: Anarchy, and the two spend the night navigating the dangerous streets attempting to stay alive.
Eventually, they cross paths with Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson), a local business owner staying up all night, heavily armed on his rooftop, to protect his uninsured grocery store from looters so he can continue to make a living. Staying close to him is a young immigrant named Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria), who is also an expert at handling firearms, in addition to Laney Rucker (Betty Gabriel), who spends every Purge circling the neighbor in an ambulance assisting the wounded.
Leo's determination to protect Senator Roan at all cost comes out in his skepticism with anyone who is not Senator Roan, as he tirelessly works to make sure she's safe and out of harm's way. In many ways, she is the last hope for a safer, better America. The NFFA's rein has long been predicated on violence as a way of maintaining the nation's purity and as an act of cleansing the populous. The Purge is something that effects everyone in some way, but mostly the poor and, often times, defenseless, which causes many low-income individuals to be murdered and their neighborhoods to be destroyed. This topic was explored heavily in Anarchy but retains its relevance in Election Year.
The Purge: Election Year also retains the incredible entertainment value of its predecessor and the scares and thrills of it, as well. This is a fundamentally terrifying series, predicating itself upon an idea that is fleshed out well enough to seem eerily plausible. Writer/director DeMonaco has nursed this franchise from the beginning and has made it blossom into a detailed and exuberantly refined series right down to the strange, disturbing specifics. Consider a sequence that shows a news story covering America's influx of "murder terrorism," where people from Europe, Belgium, and Denmark travel to America for the Purge to take part in the murderous antics that largely make up the evening.
This film is as detailed as it is tense, building upon pragmatic, believable circumstances, and laced with the rational fears of the American people on a night like the Purge. The Purge: Election Year is rumored to conclude the trilogy, but this is one of the few franchises I'd love to see continue to thrive and focus on more angles and perspectives during this twelve-hour period of terror. DeMonaco's baby has grown into a bold, confident, unbelievably entertaining staple and piece of social commentary.
Starring: Elizabeth Mitchell, Frank Grillo, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Tony Serpico, and Betty Gabriel. Directed by: James DeMonaco.
Post by StevePulaski on Jul 4, 2018 17:37:54 GMT -5
The First Purge (2018) Directed by: Gerard McMurray
Lex Scott Davis and Joivan Wade.
In addition to complicating the way we colloquially refer to the *original* Purge movie, The First Purge, the dubiously titled fourth installment, also manages to be the franchise's weakest since the one that began it all. Its themes of socioeconomic inequality and state-sanctioned violence get lost in indistinguishable bouts of chaos that pummel significant attributes of the narrative into submission. The film's remarkable lack of subtlety goes against the wry tone set by the promising teaser posters, which showed nothing but the phrase "THE FIRST PURGE" in white thread sewn onto a red baseball cap. That and a few details within the story itself would've been enough for audiences to grasp the frightening parallels of the franchise's politics with the United States' current administration. Instead, the film doubles down on its worst convention: being too obvious.
As the title suggests, The First Purge is a prequel, set in 2014 when the concept of "the purge" was introduced as an experiment exclusive to the Staten Island region. The idea is proposed by the radical third party group known as the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), and the film sets the tone by opening with the president vocalizing that the fabled American Dream is indeed dead but will soon be revived with the help of this new social experiment. It might sound familiar: for 12 hours, all crime, even murder, is legal as police and emergency responders are disabled upon its commencement. To add to things, Staten Island residents are paid $5,000 to remain on-location with the option of coming into more money if they decide to participate (and, of course, survive). Some are even given special contacts to wear during the Purge so their activities can be monitored.
We follow Nya (Lex Scott Davis from the new film SuperFly) and her younger brother, Isaiah (Jovian Wade, EastEnders), who are at the center of the purge, living in the rundown projects of New York. Nya holds rallies in opposition of the purge, for she already knows it's not for the benefit of low-income individuals such as herself, but nonetheless tries to keep her young brother out of trouble and monitor her ex-boyfriend Dmitri (Y'Lan Noel), a local drug kingpin. While Isaiah's main plan for the night is to get revenge on the mentally ill yet violent "Skeletor" (played by Rotimi Paul, who still manages to find success playing a cartoonish character), that quickly shifts when he and Nya realize what's happening. Foreign mercenaries brought into the country by the government begin exterminating the Staten Island projects, in turn revealing how the 12-hours of lawlessness contributes to a significant drop in crime and unemployment — but if you've seen the previous films, and you likely have, you already knew that.
The Purge is one of the few successful franchises in terms of quality because it rebounded so drastically from its promising but ultimately underwhelming inception. It was a film that ostensibly promised to give us a glimpse of what an unpunished violent America could look like but instead opted for what was little more than a generic home-invasion thriller. The sequels, one subtitled Anarchy and one aptly billed as Election Year, in 2016, literally took to the streets and showed a nation that, for 12 hours, was consumed by their own id and the results were both very well-done.
Similar to Election Year, which revolved around an unapologetic nationalist presidential candidate clashing with a goody two-shoes liberal candidate who wanted to abolish the purge, The First Purge goes for broke in making its political undertones parallel with the controversial politics today. Screenwriter James DeMonaco, who has been the only constant of this entire series along with producer Michael Bay, stumbles when trying to connect the film's story with the events of the present in a manner that isn't superficial. Consider a scene where Nya trips and is attacked by a sewer-dweller, who tries to pull her down into the manhole, reaching for her legs and her pelvis. She manages to back away and call him a "pussy-grabber." Of course, the mercenaries dispatched by the corrupt president are revealed to be Russians with intentions of carrying out violent and disruptive acts on U.S. soil. Both Anarchy and Election Year were able to draw credible parallels while at the same time being entertaining, even deceptively deep films with some intriguing political science and sociological subtext. The First Purge all but trivializes things.
There's also a redundant amount of mayhem in this film that is so overwrought it infuriatingly shortchanges most of the cast. Nya and Isaiah are underwhelming characters due in part that the violence of the movie bleeds into the time we should be spending getting to know them and understanding their human qualities. Once the purge commences, most scenes from thereon involve individuals as a collective running from unknown perpetrators or engulfed in an ugly cacophony of gunfire and blunt force. Perhaps it's because this is the first installment not to be directed by DeMonaco, instead helmed by Gerard McMurray, whose directing credits are slight and his biggest credit prior to this was on Ryan Coogler's admittedly exceptional Fruitvale Station in 2013. Unfortunately, it greatly dampens the bite of the film, especially as it ends with cloying uplift that follows an incoherent brawl.
Last year, it was announced that The Purge franchise would persist on in the form of a TV show for the USA Network. It's set to premiere in September and focus on some of the other 364 days of the year, in turn highlighting a country whose citizens are affected by this violent night for long after it occurs. Going forward, maybe it's best that the television program take over, or at least have future film installments take on a new angle. How has no one conducted an elaborate bank heist during the 12-hour period and quite literally gotten rich quick yet?
Starring: Lex Scott Davis, Jovian Wade, Y'Lan Noel, Marisa Tomei, Rotimi Paul, Lauren Velez, and Steve Harris. Directed by: Gerard McMurray.
Site Notes: Created: August 13, 2009. Official Date Opened: August 14, 2009. First Member: PukemonMaster.