Tuesday 7 July 2020

The First Purge (2018) Review

I'm not a massive fan of this franchise. In fact the first film, The Purge, is one of the most annoying and dumb films ever made! Anarchy was OK. Election Year was fairly decent entertainment. So I really wasn't expecting much from this latest instalment in all honesty. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon choice (picked by my wife) as it's on Netflix (UK). As it turned out I was rather surprised by The First Purge and would say it's the best one in the franchise, which still isn't saying much. However, it actually has some extremely relevant social commentary which I found interesting.

This prequel story follows the social experiment that we know as the purge, where all crime is legal for 12 hours. A scientific experiment over seen by Dr. Updale (Marisa Tomei) for the new US government or as it's called in the movie, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA). Of course they pick a low income Black and minority community to hold this experiment in, in which they offer to pay residents to participate in the festivities. 

Like any poor community, it has bad elements of criminals, drugs and crime etc, but has a lot of good people trying to live as best they can, work hard and look after each other. 

The main protagonists are Nya (Lex Scott Davis), who protests the against the experiment, while her brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade) is getting involved with the gangster lifestyle working for local drug dealer Dmitri (Y'lan Noel). The antagonist is of course the NFFA. So in typical Purge fashion, the horn blows and the fun starts.

Let's get to the nitty-gritty shall we? I avoided this film for this long because quite frankly it looked liked race baiting nonsense in the trailers. However, with what's going on in America at the moment, with the Black Lives Matter movement, protests and riots, it's easy to draw some real social commentary from this movie. The leads are stereo typical black characters. We have "sister soldier" our virtuous hero with a questionable past. Her brother who has no direction in life and blames his surroundings. And of course the anti-hero drug dealer gangster that everyone bar Nya seems to like. Last but not least, the evil white "powers that be" pulling the strings.

But this wear it gets interesting. The powers that be want this to be a successful event and hopefully become an annual America-wide  thing. They have an agenda. They then use the poverty stricken minority area and the people in them to further push that agenda. They pay people to take part and they pay other groups of people to bump the numbers up in order to guarantee the success of said agenda. They also "silence" anyone that opposes the agenda. 

Whether you chose to believe this or not, this is exactly what we are seeing right now in the States with all of this racial tension being created by the "powers that be" using and paying off groups like Black Lives Matter, Antifa, with a dash of white supremacists for good measure. And the sad truth is that people are buying into all the bullshit being created by the "powers that be" and the matter of fact is that these minority areas are being held back and pushed down by the very same people that are creating racial tension in order to stir them up into hatred to serve their agenda of control. So as regards the social commentary, this is a relevant film for these times.

Anyway, back to the movie...

Nya gives a good speech about how Dmitri is "killing people in the community the other 364 days a year." 

Y'lan Noel who plays Dmitri steals the show with his best "Black John McClane" impression and we get some genuinely creepy moments thanks to Skeletor (Rotimi Paul - below). 

I think I have to admit that James DeMonaco officially redeemed himself as a writer (he also wrote the first three) with this fourth instalment in the franchise. Gerard McMurray, only his second feature film, provides some well executed action scenes and striking visuals.

But don't get too excited. The film isn't amazing or mind blowing. It is however, considerable better all round than its predecessors. It also made me want to write a review about it, which I haven't really done in a while, if just purely because of the social commentary. So credit where it's due as both the wife and I really did enjoy it. 

The First Purge gets a solid and well deserved 3 out of 5 Stars