The First Purge
Starring Y'lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Marisa Tomei
I’m tempted to copy and paste everything I wrote about the last Purge film onto this review, as it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between them. Despite its status as a prequel, “The First Purge” offers very little we haven’t seen before. The controversial franchise is basically a cinematic encouragement of violence as it pits one race against another. This is the franchise Hollywood has chosen to represent America on Independence Day, four years running. A movie about the USA where the government allows murder and crime one day of the year. “Entry four is directed by Gerard McMurray (producer on “Fruitvale Station”) who underlines the fact that during the historic “First Purge”, it was oppressive white people killing non-white people. Happy fourth.
Scientist and psychologist Dr. Updale (Tomei) calls it “The Experiment” but the people of Staten Island have deemed it the purge. “Somethings got to change”, The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), who have won the election and promise dramatic change to the nation. Updale has worked on this project for a while, but when things don’t move at the pace the NRA supported government expects, they introduce their own elements to affect the statistics. Staten Island is the controlled experiment for the rest of the country. Dmitri (Noel) is the leader of the city’s most powerful drug gang but will become a hero to those he cares about during the 12-hour purge. Nya (Davis), his ex-girlfriend, tries to protect as many people as possible, including her teenage brother Isaiah (Wade) who has his own ideas for the purge.
There’s a basic formula to this film series, screenwriter James DeMonaco who wrote/directed the previous three films, has introduced little creativity or growth to the installments.
There’s a basic formula to this film series, screenwriter James DeMonaco who wrote/directed the previous three films, has introduced little creativity or growth to the installments. The prologue and the characters are the only notable differences. The conclusion is always the same, allowing each installment to deliver the exact same concept of innocent people running scared and eventually standing up to the purgers and/or the government. Outside of Ethan Hawke in the original film, the cast and performances from the later, including this latest one, are beyond lackluster. Marissa Tomei (Spider-Man Homecoming) makes the most useless appearance of her career. Standing behind a monitor for a small handful of scenes, only to be written out of the story in the blink of an eye, off camera no less.
The Purge film series appeal to the same low income, oppressed, minority that are depicted in the story. In a way, watching a film about citizens rising-up and fighting the government is passive purging. Nearly every pre-screening of this series I have witnessed applause, showing real involvement and hunger for this series. The characters have no more depth than “tank top wearing drug dealer” or “evil white dude”, maybe “ballsy Latino lady”. These scripts start with a story but eventually relent and focus entirely on the violence as heads explode, throats are slashed, and the cheers arise. With such striking similarities, it’s hard to distinguish one from another, and the characters might as well have numbers, instead of names.
The 4th installment of The Purge digs through the garbage bin to formulate a script.