The First Purge

I hadn’t seen any of the other films in ‘The Purge’ franchise and therefore went into ‘The First Purge’ with open expectations (not affected by pervious viewings.) However, I had seen the trailer and thought it looked quite interesting; so, was looking forward to something exhilarating that would pass the time. However, with a very mediocre score of 5.3/10 on IMDb, I was bracing for disappointment.

What is it about?

Crime rates are soaring across the United States and economic progression has seen a remarkable digression in the past years; leaving in it’s wake an increase in poverty and a loss of ‘The American Dream’. The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) are subsequently elected into power upon the people’s aggravation with current methods used, by the Republicans and Democrats, to bring about positive change. The NFFA suggest a bizarre and divisive social experiment known as The Purge; where, for a twelve hour period, all crime is legal- including murder. It is thought that this will act as a much needed release for the American people and allow the crime rates to stay within manageable levels for the rest of the year. The chosen location for the initial experiment is Staten Island and it is explained that there is no obligation to stay; however, those that do will receive $5000 and further re-embursment for active participation (huge sums of money for the impoverished community.) The NFFA need for the experiment to work; as it’s failure represents a failure of the party, therefore they are willing to go to drastic ends to ensure it’s success.

What did I think?

I enjoyed this film much more than I could have anticipated. I thought it’s use of horrific elements, mixed with genuinely engaging plot; produced something both violent and intriguing. I thought that character was built well, in a way that showed conflicted natures and not just sociopathic killers or hopeless victims (although there was plenty of people occupying these roles too.) I thought that the film had a good length, at 97 minutes, which meant that it didn’t get boring at any point as the plot was concise enough to maintain my attention. Also, I thought that the build up was great and reached it’s climax in a very satisfying fashion.

However, although I did think it worked, there were points in the film that were just absolutely ridiculous. Towards the end, it felt like even if the whole world blew up, our main protagonists would escape with little more than a scratch. This lost some of the film’s gritty realism and meant that I often wasn’t engaged in the consequences of the character’s actions. Moreover, although I did like the plot, it did feel a little bit too systematically unveiled, following a clear, clichéd structure adopted by many action films. Initial conceit- Build up of character- Beginning of main sequence of action- Plot twists- Climax. During my viewing this didn’t bother me; however, afterwards it felt like safe and easy writing.

My Rating: 6.5/10

I go to the cinema a number of times a week to see a huge variety of films and often feel that the action genre has completely lost it’s effect on me. This film disproved my theory completely. Although it obeyed the general structural laws of an action film: I thought that it’s outrageously dark centre, mixed with some inventive plot, made for something thoroughly enjoyable and engaging. If what people are saying is true, about it being the worst in the franchise, I look forward to catching up on what I have missed so far.

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