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Review: The First Purge

Universal Pictures' THE FIRST PURGE

When we last left The Purge series, we were in a tricky position in terms of its future. It looks as if they trapped themselves a little, so making a genuine sequel, may have been seen as difficult. I’m guessing that’s why they decided to turn the fourth movie into a prequel focusing on the very first purge and how it all started. Going in, my hopes weren’t high partially because of this, but I can’t honestly say that I didn’t have a good time watching it.

In order to push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) set out to test a sociological theory that allows for aggression and lawlessness for a twelve-hour period once a year. To get things started, they begin the experiment by allowing it in only in Staten Island. In their eyes, anything less than complete mayhem is unacceptable. And if done right, they’ll release a violent tradition that will spread worldwide.

The set up in the opening act was done much better than I could have anticipated. In fact, it was so well done, that it gave me hope in terms of what I could be about to see. Although I don’t hate these movies or anything, I can’t say they’ve ever been anything above decent. To my surprise, The First Purge looked to be going in a different direction as they began by unwrapping everything in a way that led me to believe that seeing a high quality out of this franchise was possible.

During the first act, you understand the need to rely on exposition as much as they do in this movie since they have to lay everything out for us. This is an acceptable practice here, but it manages to carry into the second act more than anyone would have hoped. The second act is usually where we are rewarded with one of the busier portions of a film. In this movie in particular, that means more violence and frights. We get those features to an extent, but it has to share time with a lot of conversation.

Because the first act works so well thanks to storytelling and some pretty solid acting, we’re able to connect with the characters of The First Purge the way we should. That way, when the action and tension is presented, we’re able to feel it too. I just wish they could have given us a bit more of it, since that’s ultimately what we’re here to see. This let me down a little, but in reality, I shouldn’t have been too shocked by this since it’s probably difficult to come up with a ton of ideas to create a high level of violence for the bulk of the movie.

Another reason why the approach they used should have been expected is because this has always been an issue with the Purge movies. This is particularly the case with part two and three of the franchise. The fact that they were going to be out in the streets more excited me due to there being so much potential for absolute insanity. Unfortunately, that proved not to be the case in any instance so far. Maybe they’ll figure out how to work this in eventually.

I understand the first movie being contained since everything takes place inside of a house. To get some ideas on how to tackle this, maybe they should look at something like 28 Weeks Later. That movie managed to give us large amounts of insane danger and action that we should be getting in these movies. If they can somehow emulate that, we’ll have a really entertaining piece of cinema to watch. Here’s hoping the fifth movie (and maybe even the television show) will be able to achieve that and continue the franchise’s upward trajectory!

Rating: R

Director: Gerard McMurray

Cast:
Y’Lan Noel
Lex Scott Davis
Joivan Wade
Steve Harris
Marisa Tomei
Rotimi Paul
Kristen Solis
Luna Lauren Valez
Mo McRae
Jermel Howard

Film Length: 99 minutes

Release Date: July 4, 2018

Distributor: Universal Pictures

  • Score - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
6.5/10
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